14 April 2009

Mark Fidrych: The *Charly* Of Sport

I saw the Bird pitch a couple games at Tiger Stadium back in 1976. I was a teenager, sitting in the centerfield bleachers with Jill Jameson. It was almost like a bad Bob Seger song. Anyway, the crowd loved this kid. I believe we could sense his purity. . .there was nothing phony about him. Sports fanatics believe athletes are lucky to get paid to play a game, and the Bird was the one athlete who seemed to confirm the fanatics’ belief. Even 33 years ago, American sports *stars* were surly, and had an offensive sense of entitlement. These nitwits actually went on strike, as if they were garbage collectors trying to gain advantage over a system stacked against them. Insane, that these pampered divas should ever feel exploited.

Fidrych was the biggest *star* in American sports. . .for five months. Then it all ended. A sore shoulder that never healed. He was the *Charly* of sport. He never made the big money. But he had a moment in the American sun, loved even by the opponents’ fans, that a piece of shit like Barry Bonds could never imagine.

Still, if you watch this interview with Mark *the Bird* Fidrych, you can sense the regret and a tiny bit of bitterness:

He wonders why he didn’t get more out of it, though in the Bird’s lumpenproletarianism, it isn’t the mansion and the fleet of luxury cars and the hangers-ons and the strip clubs he feels cheated out of, it is the guest spot on Magnum PI. His is an innocent bitterness.

He was the brightest *star* in American sports for five months, then had to live nearly 33 years as a white dwarf. From the sporadic accounts that came in over the years, whatever his true innermost feelings, he was always able to project an image of good cheer, and never self-pity. In the end, this was his greatest accomplishment.

5 comments:

  1. Mark was a freshman at Algonquin Regional in Northboro when I was a senior, along with his sister Paula.... in 1976 after I moved on and ended up in Delaware... Bam! I see he throws a shutout against the Indians, we meet in Baltimore and it was the same Mark as I knew him when I left...he simply never changed, and no one or event could diminish that joy his personality exuded. My heart goes out to his loved ones... I know his dad must have been so proud!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mark was a freshman at Algonquin Regional in Northboro when I was a senior, along with his sister Paula.... in 1976 after I moved on and ended up in Delaware... Bam! I see he throws a shutout against the Indians, we meet in Baltimore and it was the same Mark as I knew him when I left...he simply never changed, and no one or event could diminish that joy his personality exuded. My heart goes out to his loved ones... I know his dad must have been so proud!

    ReplyDelete
  3. It will be a long, long time before he is forgotten here in the Detroit area, because of that joyful personality that you mention.

    Thanks for coming by and sharing your memories.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Man, Bird crushed by a truck.

    I only know him through what I've read (the guy is more a legendary goof than a one season phenom), but even with the jester persona, the guy seemed strangely cued in to the world.

    I think he was asked what animal he would be and he replied, "a whale." When asked why, I believe he responded with something like, "that way I could have a 10 foot tongue and a blow hole up top."

    Another was something like, "I get lazy sometimes. I don't do the dishes but the dishes don't get too high. I only have 4."

    It's too bad what happened to him.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.

    ReplyDelete