Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Give 'Em the Bird!

Mark (“The Bird”) Fidrych was the total opposite of “baseball cool.” I mean, seriously, what self-respecting big-time major-league baseball pitcher would:

  • Strut around the mound after every out
  • Pat his infielders on the back after good plays
  • Constantly get down on his hands and knees to “manicure” the mound
  • Talk to himself
  • Talk to the ball

Needless to say, his hyper, slightly cracked antics were a huge hit with the fans when he burst on the scene in 1976. In fact, that first year was a huge hit all around, with Fidrych going 19-9, leading the league in ERA and complete games, winning the Rookie of the Year Award, and being named to the All Star team.

He’d replicate that last feat in his sophomore year, as well as posting a sub 3.00 ERA in each of his first three seasons. Unfortunately, he’d also never break 100 innings again, never getting over the arm trouble that resulted from the 250 innings he threw in ’76. 

Ultimately, he’d be out of the bigs in five quick years, retiring to his rural Massachusetts hometown, where he drove a truck and purchased a farm.

Oh, did I mention he was an extremely lanky 6’3” and 175 lbs., with curly hair that made him look like Raggedy Andy? Yup, The Bird was a piece of work, let me tell you.
    

Is he stoned?  

1977, that incredible rookie year.


No, seriously.  He’s stoned, isn’t he?
     

1979. The Bird only got 22 innings for this year. He did, however, go unbeaten (2-0) and posted a 2.45 ERA.


1980. Reversal of fortune – Fidrych went 0-3 with a 10.43 ERA.


1981. His last year in the majors. He’d go 2-3 with a 5.68 ERA. 


Whoops!  Wrong guy.  Who ever heard of Mark “The Catfish” Fidrych?


And here’s the pitch …