Base Coach Tim Flannery Aids Stow Family
Credit: Photograph by Cody Pickens
Few know exactly what happened at Dodger Stadium back in 2011, but an L.A. tough guy named Louie Sanchez, with past criminal convictions for domestic violence and firearms violations, stands accused of sucker punching Stow so hard in the dark parking lot that he dropped unconscious to the ground. Stow's paramedic buddies saw, and heard, Stow's skull bouncing off the asphalt. They tried to shield him, but Sanchez and his accomplice, Marvin Norwood, allegedly kicked Stow in the head so many times that it fractured his skull and caused significant brain damage.

"We heard something in the clubhouse about what had happened," Flannery tells me. "We just knew that one of our fans had been jumped and beaten down and might not live, and it made me sick. This guy's a father and a brother and a son." Once Stow emerged from a coma and began rehab, Flannery and his wife paid him a visit, where they met Stow's parents and siblings. (He is divorced.) It struck Flannery that all their lives had changed. Stow was going to need intensive nursing for the rest of his life.

"I was a full-time caregiver for my dad at the end," Flannery says. "He died with a straitjacket on. It was violent. Caregivers get beat up."

The Stow family has sued the Dodgers for negligence, claiming the team provided inadequate security, but the lawsuit is still pending, even as the estimate for Stow's lifetime medical expenses hits $50 million. (Sanchez and Norwood have pleaded not guilty.) Stow's health insurance company has cut off payments for live-in rehab, forcing his parents to care for him at home.

The idea for a benefit concert – a way to get at least some trickle of money to the Stows – came from the artistic director of Yoshi's, a San Francisco nightclub. Flannery agreed, pulling together the backup combo Lunatic Fringe, which includes country musicians like Jeff Berkley, who recalls watching Flannery and the Padres as a kid: "He played a lot like a Pete Rose, threw everything he had at the game, but then I heard his music and I was like, 'Did you write that?' Everybody's always going to know Flan as a baseball player first – but I didn't know he'd be such an awesome songwriter."

That original benefit was a big success, prompting several Giants players, including Barry Bonds, Tim Lincecum, and Barry Zito, to write generous checks. "I wasn't surprised that Flan was doing something selfless," Zito says. "If you know him, you can sense that he cares about giving back."

Bob Weir, of the Grateful Dead, had the same reaction, offering to play with Flannery in a second benefit concert. By the time Flannery headed off to spring training that year, he'd raised a combined $70,000. The Giants' 2012 season was one for the ages, of course, with a record six elimination-game wins on their way to a World Series victory. Then Flannery pulled his band together yet again, like he always does, putting two more benefits on the calendar, to raise yet another $70,000.

"Last week we got to give Bryan's mom the check," Flannery tells me in a phone call from Arizona, where he'd gone for spring training. "I just got an e-mail, and what she wrote blows my mind. They've got nothing, and it helped her buy a van. I'm just hoping to shine a little light on the ignorance of the act."