Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Goodbye Mark Fidrych

The following tribute was written by our friend John Dashner:

We lost a really neat human being today.

Mark Fidrych, sometimes known as “The Bird” because of his resemblance to the Sesame Street character was something special. He arrived in the majors with the Tigers in 1976 and immediately took the baseball world by storm by beating the hated Yankees on Monday night in front of a national TV audience.

He became rookie of the year after going 19 – 6 that year. He was enchanting to those of us who followed him, not because of the wins, but because of his spirit.

I personally witnessed his first start at old Tiger Stadium with our Cub Scout troop and marveled as he pitched a 1 hitter against the Cleveland Indians. Only a ground ball that bad hopped reliable Aurelio Rodriguez at third base accounted for the Indians only hit that gray, rainy day.

We watched as Fidrych smoothed the dirt on the mound, pep talked the ball and animatedly encouraged his fielders. After injuries beset him in following seasons and ultimately ended his career after only 58 games, he returned to civilian life in New England, not bitter but always thankful for what he so briefly possessed.

He would return to Detroit until his death, taking part in alumni activities and fantasy camps with the same boundless enthusiasm and spirit. And now he is gone –

We should all embrace every day like he did ----


Jim Thill said...

Fidrych was before my time, but my dad claimed to have met him once. Evidently Fidrych gave him an official MLB baseball, new in the box. It was one of his favorite souvenirs.

Bud said...

I came home from a night class that spring, and my mother called me: "Are you watching the Tiger game?" I turned it on and there was Fidrych. At first he seemed like nothing but a novelty, maybe a joke, but then he turned out to be an American original. What a heart-warmer.

Marsha said...

Wow! Short life! I remember his antics of course. I also remember a kid named Chris Fidrych who pitched for Clemson in, I think 2005. He was a “distant relative” of Mark. He was from Beaufort SC but born in maybe Corpus Christi TX.

Dashmann said...

He was a little like JFK (John Fitzgerald Kennedy for you acronym haters ) in that you kind of had to be there to fully appreciate the feeling he gave you.

He never wanted anyone to feel sorry for him.
I think he was always greatful he had his shot------
Thats more than most of us ever get.

scot s w said...

Like many other athletes of his era, I often think what might have been if he had the benefit of today's medicine and training regimens...

When people moan about how nobody pitches complete games anymore, Fidrych is a great example of why -- when you're paying guys millions, you don't want to wear out those golden arms.

scot s w said...

By the way, I meant to say -- Nicely written, Dashner.

In all the Mark Fidrych hoo-ha that's been going on the last few days, there's been precious little actual footage of his games. That's what I would like to see: Half an hour of clips of the original broadcasts. All the voice-overs add very little.

Irene said...

I started following Tiger baseball in 1976 - my grandpa introduced me to Mark Fidrych. I remember watching Fidrych pitch in the All Star game that year at a motel along I-75 while driving to Florida with my granparents. I was desperate to get out of the car to someplace where there was a TV before the game started.