My favorite personal snaps of Mark Fidrych
Tiger Stadium, August 1976
You can't grow up in Detroit and not love the Tigers, even when they stink to high heaven.
I was lucky enough to grow up during an era when I experienced them winning the World Series in 1968 and again in 1984. The interim years were still fun, because my best friend Reetz and I were teenagers with serious crushes on half the team, with our hearts belonging mostly to Tom Veryzer.
But midway between pennants, we were mesmerized by a Massachusetts pitcher who took Detroit (and baseball in general) by storm. Mark "The Bird" Fidrych was an unassuming, quirky dude who talked to the baseball and groomed the mound between batters.
And he won games, despite the oppressive fan and media attention. You
couldn't go anywhere in town without hearing the refrains of Bird, Bird, Bird, The Bird is the Word...
When I heard of his untimely death today, my adult heart ached for the senseless loss, for his pain and that of his family. And my inner teenager pulled out her old Tiger albums filled with yellowing pictures and wept for one of her super heroes.
But I also smiled thinking of all the joy he brought me and to so many people doing what he loved, being himself. We should all have such brief, shining moments. I'm glad to have been around to witness his.
God bless you, Mark. You'll always be The Word! Rest in peace.
Related article: State rules Mark Fidrych's death an accident.
1985 interview courtesy of Media Burn Archive: