Thursday, April 16, 2009

RIP Mark Fidrych

I remember the media coverage of "The Bird" in 1976. He was a genuine character on the diamond, and if you didn't enjoy his antics, you just didn't enjoy baseball. Of course, he was more than just a daft player; you don't go 19-9 with a 2.34 ERA and win AL Rookie of the Year on your personality. Nor do you pitch 24 complete games at the age of 22 -- 7 of them in one month -- without grave risk. He was 10-10 during the rest of his injury-shortened career.

He died a couple of days ago in a farm accident, suffocating when his clothes got caught in a power take-off on a dump truck he was working on. I worked around PTOs enough to know that just a moment's inattention would be all it would take.

Mark Fidrych, you're missed already. Your joy for the game was infectious. That had to be why you played, right? After all, your 1976 salary of $16,500 was certainly less than some players now make per game.

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