Tuesday, April 14, 2009

There Was Nothing Phony About Mark Fidrych

If Mark Fidrych had started grooming the mound and talking to the baseball with the purpose of garnering attention toward himself, it never would have worked.
He would have been detected as a phony and been called out for it - especially in this town.
The difference is Fidrych was genuine. It wasn’t an act.
He was a simple guy, who lived a simple life except for his 15 minutes of fame. What was so wonderful about those 15 minutes is that Fidrych enjoyed it so much. Never got a big head. Never was full of himself. He was only full of life and it rubbed off not only on this town, but the entire country. It was wonderful watching him enjoy it.
Fidrych was the kid with the curly, blond mop top from down the street who made it. It was impossible to resent him for his success.
He was also a excellent pitcher. When Fidrych talked, the baseball listened. What set him apart during that magical season in 1976 was his command of the ball. Every pitch buzzed the knees and clipped a corner of the plate.
It’s surreal to know he is gone.



Blogger Barry said...

Pat, I remember how disappointed I was when he went down with injury in 77 and 78. This guy was an excellent pitcher and would have been a great pitcher. If I am correct he flew through the mirrors and had a great rookie season while pitching every fourth day. Life robbed this guy of pitching because his potential was unlimited.

10:41 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've really enjoyed reading all of the wonderful things that you and your journalistic colleagues have had to say about The Bird. You all have done a great job painting these pictures in our minds for those of us that didn't get to see him pitch. It really is a shame that he is gone so soon. I wish that I had been around to experience the summer of 1976 when he captivated this city and the entire country.


12:11 PM 
Anonymous Chuck said...

The "Bird" was great for baseball. I've been a baseball fan all my life, I grew up in Brooklyn, and remember going to Ebbetts Field to see the Dodgers, we always thought that the world series would always include a NYC team. This marks my 40th. season of following my "adopted" Tigers...what a great history and the "bird" was a part of the wonderfulness of the game. We need more like him, who can give us the real thrill of the game

9:21 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was the best tribute to The Bird of all the many things that have been written about him.
You really captured the essense of this remarkable man.
My biggest regret about Fidrych is that he never got a chance to savor the remarkable 1984 season that he would have been such a vital cog in, had things gone according to reasonable form.
Thanx Pat!

7:28 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I remember going to a game and seeing him pitch, it must have been 1977. He just wasn't the same. I do wonder, even if he were healthy, whether The Bird ever would have been able to come close to matching '76.

5:44 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

It was special. It was the bridge between the '68 Tigers and '84 Tigers and kept baseball alive in this town.

5:45 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Yeah, thoughout the 1950s, there was a New York team in the series every year until '59 - and it was only because the Dodgers moved to LA.

5:46 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Yeah, he still would have been around for '84. If The Bird had maintained his form, maybe the Tigers would have won another world series or two.

5:49 PM 

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