Where’s The Joy?

For most of his adult life, Mark Fidrych of Northborough, MA was a trucker and a farmer.  But for one year, 1976, he was the brightest star in baseball.

sicover__1239656506_6157He was The Bird.

As a rookie pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, he went 19-9 with an ERA of 2.34.  His most remarkable statistics:  he started 29 games, and completed 24 of them.  These days, entire pitching staffs don’t rack up 24 complete games.

The numbers belonged to Mark Fidrych, but the rest his story is about The Bird.  The Bird talked to the ball, high-fived his teammates in the field, and hand-smoothed the dirt on the mound.

22693_lgThe Bird was only 22, a rock star before his time.  How many baseball players made the cover of the Rolling Stone?  (And that must have sent Dr. Hook off the deep end.)

The farmer’s accidental death Monday reminded me of what The Bird really brought to sports, and what’s missing now. 


Every one of his performances in 1976 became a group expression of joy.  He had a ball on the mound, and the fans had a ball watching him.  It was a national love affair that lasted exactly one season, cut short by injury.

I enjoy watching Tiger Woods, Kevin Garnett, Tom Brady, and Josh Beckett.  They are masters of their sports.  I just wish they looked like they were having fun.

Like The Bird.


About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
This entry was posted in News, People, Sports and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Where’s The Joy?

  1. Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Red Sox roster this year. Trying to think of a word that sums it all up. Joy isn’t the word. Intensity? Dustin,Kevin, Beckett. They all have it. Articulate? Drew, Bay, Ellsbury. Future RemDogs. But joy. Which one of this crew displays that? When I was a kid, Piersall did. A few years later Fidrych took the mound.

    Once in a generation. Fidrych. Taken too early out of The Game.

  2. joan says:

    Ironically, or perhaps presciently, I happened to watch “Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey” last night and chuckled at the part where Lee said he was often mistaken for Fidrych. Lotta respect there…RIP to The Bird. Pitchin’ for the Cosmic Allstars now.

  3. Joan

    Spot on! Bill Lee and Fidrych. Nice job connecting the dots tween the Tigers and Sox

  4. Fidrych, Piersal, Yogi, etc…etc…

    How sterile has baseball become?

    Way to sterile.

    The game is meant to be fun.

  5. I’d add Casey Stengel to that list, Marshall. I love this year’s Sox team, but Gawd are they boring! Thank goodness for Remy and Don O. The Rowen and Martin of baseball brodcasters. I love it when they get into those laughing fits. Like two teens in church trying to stifle it.

  6. Gerry says:

    Especially on the late night west coast games. I know. I’m up.

  7. I know you all Red Sox Nation..but I remember Joe Garagiola and Phil Rizzuto..not much game but plenty of laughs!

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