Tuesday, April 14, 2009

You were cool, Mark Fidrych ... You were way cool ...

By J. Thomas Duffy

More sad news out of the baseball world this evening.

Following last week's tragic car accident that claimed Anaheim Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, and the news, earlier today, that Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas died before a game (you can say he "died with his booth on"), a real bombshell (at least emotionally), that Mark "The Bird" Fidrych died today, perhaps in some kind of accident, repairing his truck.

Back in the mid-'70s, 1976 to be specific, Fidrych took over baseball, lock, stock, and barrel, eventually, at season's end, earning Rookie of the Year honors.

He was special, a real character, a honest character.

He played the game like it was supposed to be played -- he had fun.

Tall, and with the gangly delivery, he soon got pegged as "The Bird," and he talked to himself out on the mound ... And he did his own groundswork on the mound, all contributing to the brilliant, blazing, rocket-of-a-shooting-star that Fidrych was.

A shoulder injury in his second year eventually cut his career short, as Fidrych played only five years, all with the Detroit Tigers (ironically, he missed by a year, or two, the advancement in medicine, the surgery to repair his shoulder, that, possibly, would have given him a glorious career).

He came home, here, to Massachusetts, and, baffling to some, simply lived his life.

You Were Cool, Mark Fidrych ... You Were Way Cool ...

You had duende ...

Nick Acocella: In '76, Bird was the word

Mark "The Bird" Fidrych

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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