Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Just because: Mark Fidrych, 1976
By David Schoenfield
In my Tuesday chat session, we somehow got on the topic of one-year wonders. I mentioned Mark Fidrych, who had a great rookie season with the Tigers in 1976 and then got injured.
Chris from NYC responded: "I saw Fidrych pitch live a few times and he was absolutely electrifying. I never experienced anything else like him at a sporting event."
I mentioned a video from Fidrych's famous 1976 Monday night game against the Yankees. I'm sure I've written about that game before; I was 7 years old and it's probably the first game I actually remember watching.
Chris wrote back:
It's hard to imagine Detroit being any worse off than it is now but it really was horrible in the 1970s. A lot more people were living there at the time and the crime rate was incredibly depressing. Fidrych was like a breath of fresh air -- he really seemed to enjoy playing the game -- and the locals really took to him. I think he was making $19,000 in 1976, living in a crappy apartment but he was happy as a lark. At least he got one decent contract and bought the farm he always wanted to own.
Anyway, here's a 4-minute video from the end of the game. I love the announcer saying, "And the Tigers act like Fidrych just won the seventh game of the World Series." That's how exciting he was. Be sure to watch the whole video to see Fidrych receive a curtain call -- after he'd already gone into the clubhouse.