Tulsa native Brian Flynn, in his sixth season pitching in major league baseball and fourth with the Kansas City Royals, has earned a reputation of perseverance, especially when it comes to overcoming injuries.
The 29-year-old Owasso High School graduate bounced back most recently from a strained left ulnar collateral ligament, which landed him on the injured list to start this season. He was reactivated in May.
Flynn, who made his big league debut in 2013 with Miami, has previously dealt with vertebrae, groin and back problems. But the lefthander has made it back from each one – comebacks he attributes to the trainers and medical staff with the Marlins and Royals.
“I’ve been fortunate in that some have been minor [injuries] where I’ve been able to get back during the season, and I’ve had some season-enders. It’s been a mixture of both,” Flynn says. “A big credit to the staff here [in Kansas City] – they get paid to get us back on the field and they’ve done a great job. They’ve put me back together through some random injuries.
“It’s a little bit of a pride thing, too, when you get back on the field – like getting to throw four innings after coming back from a UCL injury. When you put yourself back together and work hard through the rehab, it makes you feel a sense of accomplishment when you fight back through those.”
Something else Flynn takes great pride in is his Oklahoma roots, especially those in Owasso, where fellow big leaguers Dylan Bundy (Baltimore) and Pete Kozma (Detroit) also played.
“Being from the Tulsa area, there’s a lot of good baseball there,” Flynn says. “Coming through Owasso when I did, we had a lot of good ballplayers like Kozma and some other guys that played pro ball.”
Bundy and Muskogee’s Archie Bradley, who pitches for the Arizona Diamondbacks, “took that to another level,” says Flynn, who’s “definitely proud of the baseball bloodline there.”
Flynn says competition, especially one-on-one battles between pitcher and hitter, is what makes baseball appealing to him. Once his time in the sport is over, he knows he’ll have to find another way to compete.
In the offseason, which includes plenty of fishing and hunting, he and his wife, Kelsey, call McAlester home – an area with plenty of outdoor activities, lakes and open land.
“I did some fishing down at Lake Texoma this offseason, did some striper fishing and did some hunting,” Flynn says. “I’m lucky I married into a cattle ranching family, so there’s plenty of land to be hunted down there.”
He and his wife also make frequent trips to nearby Krebs to dine at or get takeout from Pete’s Place, a longtime favorite for Italian food. Or they buy groceries from neighboring Lovera’s to prepare their own festa at home.