Mark Fidrych, RIP

His moment in the spotlight lasted about as long as the hiss of a struck match, but what a bright moment it was. And now Mark The Bird Fidrych is dead.

In 1976 my pal Mark Buis and I sat in the left-field bleachers of Tiger Stadium and witnessed one of Fydrich’s few losses his rookie season. We didn’t care. We got to see Mark Fidrych. His boyish enthusiam was as good for MLB as Magic Johnson’s would be for the NBA a few years later.

The Bird talked to himself. He repaired the mound himself. He sprinted to the dugout at the end of an inning. He worked so fast you barely had time to go for a hotdog. But injury took him from baseball, and an accident has taken him for good. Rest in soft peace, Mark Fidrych.

There’s a retrospective at boston.com and an appreciation in today’s NYT. And here’s The Bird on youtube.

2 comments on this post.
  1. Tim A:

    I was an eight-year-old fan in the Detroit suburbs that Bicentennial summer. We were at the half-way point between the Tigers’ 1968 (before my time) and 1984 (a lifetime away) World Championships. And they were horrible, as Kaline/Lolich/Horton had faded, and Trammell/Whitaker/Morris were still Evansville Triplets. Fidrych made life worht living that summer.

    Stadium security was lax in the day, and cute little boys could easily wander down to the seats behind the dugout before gametime. By jumping on top and shouting enthusiastically when the Bird approached, I got my program signed by the Man. A major highlight of my childhood.

    Early the next spring, when the 1977 baseball cards came out, I had saved enough to buy out the entire first shipment from the neighborhood Sav-On drugstore (after pestering them for several weeks). Over 200 packs, I believe. I got not one, but three Fidrych rookie cards. I was able to trade the other two for something like 30 Pete Roses, Rod Carews, Steve Carltons, Tom Seavers, etc. I think I got my Nolan Ryan rookie card (from another kid’s older brother’s collection) in one of those trades. A decade later it helped pay for a term at MSU.

  2. Tim A:

    I was an eight-year-old fan in the Detroit suburbs that Bicentennial summer. We were at the half-way point between the Tigers’ 1968 (before my time) and 1984 (a lifetime away) World Championships. And they were horrible, as Kaline/Lolich/Horton had faded, and Trammell/Whitaker/Morris were still Evansville Triplets. Fidrych made life worth living that summer.
    Stadium security was lax back in the day, and cute little boys could easily wander down to the seats behind the dugout before gametime. By jumping on top and shouting enthusiastically when the Bird approached, I got my program signed by the Man. A major highlight of my childhood.

    Early the next spring, when the 1977 baseball cards came out, I had saved enough to buy out the entire first shipment from the neighborhood Sav-On drugstore (after pestering them for several weeks). Over 200 packs, I believe. I got not one, but three Fidrych rookie cards. I was able to trade the other two for something like 30 Pete Roses, Rod Carews, Steve Carltons, Tom Seavers, etc. I think I got my Nolan Ryan rookie card (from another kid’s older brother’s collection) in one of those trades. A decade later it helped pay for a term at MSU.

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