Fidrych's gem vs. Yankees online

If you miss the replay of The Bird's nationally televised gem against the Yankees on MLB Network Saturday, it's running again online at the moment. You can get to it off the MLB.com home page or at mlb.com/live.

15 Comments

What a guy!
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He was the most refreshing thing to hit baseball in the last 50 years. He made an enormous impact in an unbelievably short time. He won the hearts and admiration of baseball and non-baseball alike.
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My guess is that he was as successful as a human being as he was as a baseball personality.
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I saw him pitch during my days in N. California when there were more Tiger fans in the stand than Oakland A’s fans. He always noticed the rabid Tiger fans and always engaged in some sort of genuine dialogue and repartee with us. I have some clips of him on Super 8 that now take on greater significance.
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He made the world a better place.
Sad to see him leave the planet.

I wasn’t taken as much with The Bird’s eccentricities and antics as much as I was taken with his youthful exuberance and genuine enthusiasm for the game. My favorite Fidrych story doesn’t really involve Mark himself, although it was he who caused it.
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On June 28, 1976, a group of friends and myself made a spur of the moment decision to drive into Detroit and see the Bird go up against the Yankees. It was easy to get walkup tickets in those days, so we piled into an old rusty yellow van with no a/c and a radio that worked about half the time and headed east on I-94. As we neared the ballpark exit, traffic was slowing down considerably. As we came across the ramp towards the Jeffries Freeway, it stopped altogether. It seems that half of Michigan had made the same last minute decision as we had. Little did we know that over 50,000 people had already filed into the ballpark and that thousands more were on the highways and streets leading into it. How many? Who knows. 100,000? At any rate, there we were on the ramp, that one where you see St. Boniface to the right and Tiger Stadium straight ahead. So close, but we were moving about a car length every five minutes. Well, it was very hot that night and I was sitting on the floor of this sizzling old van, so I decided to hop out and walk along the sidewalk that ran alongside. We’d moved up some 15 feet when I heard a sound behind me. Turning to look, I beheld a police cruiser, creeping along the same sidewalk I was walking on. It stopped and an officer’s head appeared above the open door. “What do you think you’re doing?” he called out. I cleverly replied that I was walking, at which time he sternly ordered me to get back inside my vehicle. Now, you have to understand that I lived in Ann Arbor at that time. Ann Arbor, the home of the Hash Bash, tenant’s unions, Shakey Jake, midnight nude runs, free concerts at Spann Field, and John Sinclair. “What,” I hollered back, “it’s against the law to walk on a public sidewalk?” In response, the two officers calmly climbed out of the cruiser and went into their routine of donning their riot helmets, adjusting their billy clubs into their belts, and so on. They have a unique way of doing this, you know. I glanced at the open door and of course read “Detroit Police” on the side, whereupon I reminded myself “you ain’t in Ann Arbor now, buddy.” “Going now,” I called out and scooted back to the van to resume my sauna treatment. By now the game had started and we were stuck on this ramp. We started listening on the radio but it of course conked out about two hitters in. In the end, we spent over three hours in that van, never saw a pitch, and arrived home just in time to see the final out on TV. Ever since then, I could never think of the Bird without envisioning the ramp with St. Boniface on the right and Tiger Stadium looming, just out or reach.
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–Rich

Well, you definitely earned a great story from that disappointing experience Rich. And it was a great story.
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I was very saddened to hear “The Bird” passed away. He was a breath of fresh air for the Tigers, and for baseball. What a unique baseball character he was. He just personified an innocence and a purity, an honest approach to the game. Like he would have played for nothing. Heck, he would have played with us.
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I was proud that he was a Tiger. To be honest, there were some years there from the middle to later 70’s where I kind of walked away from following baseball. Not completely, but I was not faithfully following.
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To me Mark Fidrych helped bring my heart back to the game… to the Tigers. He bridged a gap in my life that stretched from saying goodbye to my childhood hero Mr. Kaline, and the great Tiger teams of the 60’s, all the way to the1984 World Champs. There were some lean years in there. That was very important I think.
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Sadly, his career was shortened by injury. I actually had hopes and dreams back then that he would have multiple 20 game seasons, become a HOFer, and in the process bring the focus of the baseball world back to Detroit for a long time. It may not have been over the expanse of a long career but, nevertheless, “The Bird” made me even more proud to be a Tiger fan.
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I guess, (at least as I sort it out in my own mind) that sometimes a thing comes along that is so special that it seems it just can’t last forever. It’s that perfect. It stands alone, doesn’t need to be prolonged or repeated….wasn’t meant to be repeated. One golden season worth more than a thousand.
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Mark “The Bird” Fidrych was just such a person. A real honest to goodness baseball personality. There will never be another like him.
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May God bless him and comfort his family.

Great posts.
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Mark deserves nothing less.

Marty wrote: I guess, (at least as I sort it out in my own mind) that sometimes a thing comes along that is so special that it seems it just can’t last forever. It’s that perfect. It stands alone, doesn’t need to be prolonged or repeated….wasn’t meant to be repeated. One golden season worth more than a thousand.
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Hey Marty, I’ve been trying, without success, to express that exact thought for two days now. You nailed it.
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–Rich

Geez–G-Man looked great pitching more determined when he gets in trouble as opposed to pitching scared.
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Curtis and Ordonez are worrrying me. Curtis is getting himself into a deep frustrating pattern of hitting the ball to the 1st baseman. Maggs continues to look like a below average hitter right now and is perfecting the art of striking out.

Typical Tigers – 2nd and 3rd no outs and don’t get the run home. There is nothing that drives me crazier than that.

That was brutal. Santiago and Granderson ugghh.
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This is a point I have made about my favourite Tiger before. When he (Curtis) gets into a hitting funk it can be deep and dark with seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel. He often kills his AB looking at 1st pitch strikes. What bugs me about this is that curtis is a guy who could be elite status if ever he develops the grit and determination and self-confidence.

Your best pitcher on the mound and you fail to take control of the game. These guys just refuse to beat Chicago, it seems.
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–Rich

As much as I love watching baseball, I hate watching these Chicago games. I just kind of wait around for the disaster to happen. Not fun.
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–Rich

Great job by Polanco but the Curtis and Ordonez ABs are becoming grotesque and habit forming repetitions.
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Ordonez 1st pitch swinging is not helping and Grandy’s inability to pull the trigger on the 1st pitch isn’t either.
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The DVs (Designated Venezuelans) have to start producing in the middle of the lineup.
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Need a shut-down inning here—badly.

Maggs has looked like that since his first AB on February 25. Is Edgar Martinez still available for him to talk to in Seattle? I know Edgar is running some business, but I don’t know where.
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Good shot, Big Cab.
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NOT the time to remove Mondo yet.
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–Rich

Nice Bobby- Thanks AJ that was a timely double play you grounded into

Mr. Perry’s going to hurt somebody here. C’mon, Ryan.

Ya it looked as though Perry was trying to kill someone, the dude had no control.
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This was a nice win and I will tell you that after they stranded those two on 2nd and 3rd with no outs I wasn’t holding out hope for the day.
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Good job by all around. We have got to get Guillen and Granderson going it is critical. Maybe Carlos’s achilles is bothering him more than it appears and should be sat down for a couple of days. Let Anderson play in the outfield, (I like Anderson). Larish and Thames can DH.
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Go Tigers.

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