November 28, 2016

WORD:

Mark Fidrych: The story of The Bird (Cory Fallon  Nov 28, 2016, Baseball Essential)

Not initially thinking scouts were looking at the six-foot-three right-hander, Fidrych joked that when he got the call he thought he'd been drafted into the military.

Fidrych was given his famous nickname, The Bird, from a coach while playing with the Lakeland Tigers, one of Detroit's minor-league farm teams. His appearance resembled that of Big Bird from the popular television show Sesame Street, thus earning him the nickname.

Fidrych made the Tigers roster out of spring training 1976, and he made his Major League Debut on April 20, 1976. Having only thrown one career inning prior, Fidrych made a spot start on May 15 and came away with a 2-1, complete-game victory against the Indians, firing six no-hit innings to start the game off. This start introduced the world to Fidrych and all of his quirky antics. After the game, Rico Carty said he thought that "Fidrych was trying to hypnotize them" during the game.

While in today's game we are used to player rituals with charismatic and enthusiastic players, baseball was not the same in the 1970s. Fidrych brought his own style when he pitched, making him a must watch. He became a national celebrity after defeating the New York Yankees, 5-1, in mid-June, which was nationally televised on ABC, one of the few games to be shown during that time, and showcased the very best of The Bird.

Fidrych would walk out to the mound before every inning and manicure the mound. He would crouch down and pat the dirt down to his liking, and remove all cleat marks and divots he felt shouldn't be there. He would yell at the ball if it didn't go where he wanted it to, and throw balls back to the umpire, which "had hits in them," as he said, insisting they be removed from the game. He would also yell at himself before, during, and after most pitches he threw. He was so superstitious that Tiger management refused to change out his rookie catcher for fear that it would mess him up.

Posted by at November 28, 2016 3:29 PM

  

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