RIP Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych

thebird.jpgA few months ago in a tragic accident, former Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych lost his life while working on a truck on his farm in Massachusetts. The details of the accident arn’t as important as the fact that he was only 54 years old, and left behind a wife and daughter. Our prayers go out to his family and friends.
I was actually only four years old when he made his major league debut. I can still remember how much fun he was to watch as a kid. I went to my first Tigers game in 1977, a year after Fidrych won the Rookie of the Year award, and made baseball fun again for so many fans. Due to injury, I never did see him pitch live, but that didn’t stop him from being my favorite player back then, and even now. One of my most prized possessions is an old baseball card of him that my mom cut off the bottom of a Twinkie box. The price guides will tell you it’s worthless. It’s bent, beat up, and doesn’t fit the mold of a ‘mint’ baseball card. To me, though, it represents a part of my childhood. I used to carry that card in my back pocket everywhere I went when I was in gradeschool. It was as important to me as my Star Wars toys that I cherished at the time.
I did have the pleasure of meeting Mark in 1995 at a card show in Mt. Pleasant. He was great with his fans and signed a card for me. I have always wanted my kids to meet him, tfidrych-walbeck.jpgoo, but that isn’t going to happen now. I did actually send him two cards in the mail to sign for Lily and Trevor (before Brian came along). He was nice enough to sign them and send them back. Mark is Lily’s favorite player, too, basically because she’s heard all of the stories from me and has seen all of the things I collect of his. All I can do, I guess, is keep telling the stories, showing the pictures, try to keep his legend living on. Pictured to the right is Fidrych at a Whitecaps game on 70’s night in 2007. So Rest in Peace, and in my opinion, the Bird is STILL the word.
Pictures courtesy of MLB

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