Web Analytics and Web Statistics by NextSTAT The Boston Sports Nut: Mark Fidrych - Characters of the Game

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mark Fidrych - Characters of the Game

Mark Fidrych, who was nicknamed "The Bird", was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1976 when he went 19-9 and led the AL in ERA (2.34) and complete games (24).

In 1976, a tall, flamboyant fireballer from Massachusetts named Mark Steven Fidrych made his major league debut for the Detroit Tigers. With his unique antics, youthful look and overpowering performances, Fidrych's 1976 season was a gem. Fidrych was 19-9 with and led the league in ERA (2.34) and complete games (24). He started the All-Star Game and became a national celebrity, sporting the covers of periodicals from The Sporting News to Rolling Stone. But injuries plagued what had the potential to be an unbelievable career. Fidrych won only 10 more games with the Tigers from 1977-1980 and was out of organized baseball in 1982.

Fidrych had his city turned on. Everywhere you go, all any one wants to talk about is The Bird. He personally packed the park twice in six days, as 98,887 flocked to Tiger Stadium to see The Bird perform in those two games. In fact, the Tigers' flaky, frizzy-haired phenom had the fans in a frenzy. When was the last time you saw 50,000 people refuse to leave their seats or stop clapping until a gangling, 21-year-old came back out on the field for a curtain call?

Tiger Manager Ralph Houk, who has been around for a long time, readily admitted, "In all my years in baseball, I've never seen anything like it. I don't think even Walter Johnson started this fast." But then there never has been anybody quite like The Bird before. He talks to the ball, pointing it toward the plate like a dart, telling it where to go. . . He gets down on his knees before every inning and pats the dirt on the mound into place with his left hand. . . He sprints on and off the field and struts around the mound like a mad stork after every out, applauding his teammates and calling for the ball back.

Next Weeks' CHARACTER OF THE GAME: Fernando Valenzuela. 2 weeks from now our character shall be Charles O. Finley!!! Watch for Greatest Boston Sports Heroes....coming soon to this blog near you!!!!!

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