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 Mark Fidrych RIP 
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Post Mark Fidrych RIP
Very sad seems like were loosing to many Tigers all the Sudden. The free press is reporting that Mark "The Bird" Fidrych was found dead at his home under his truck. RIP MARK Always a Tiger.

April 13th, 2009, 6:03 pm
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DetNews wrote:
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Mark Fidrych: Aug. 14, 1954-April 13, 2009
'The Bird' sure could fill the seats -- and ushers' wallets

Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

Mark Fidrych helped put me through college. Actually, he pretty much paid for my junior year at the University of Michigan, in 1976-77.

Like most fans of the Detroit Tigers, my memories of Fidrych are joyful and exuberant -- just like Mark, all happiness and manic-excitement, all of the time.

But there is a considerable, facts-of-life consideration added to my memories of the late phenomenon that was and always will be Mark Fidrych, in Detroit. He made me a ton of dough!

The year he talked the ball into winning 19 games for him and the Detroit Tigers was my eighth year as an employee at Tiger Stadium -- and my first as a uniformed usher.

It was an ideal summer job, especially for a big, lifelong Tigers' fan.

But, as low man on the seniority pole, back when the ushers at Tiger Stadium were all in a union, I had people sitting in my sections in right field that year only when "The Bird" pitched.

The Tigers were lousy in 1976 -- except, by and large, for Fidrych, who was the phenomenon about which the whole nation, let alone Metro Detroit, was talking, that summer.

When he did not start a game, the Tigers drew at most 15,000 spectators, maybe 18,000, if they were lucky.

But "The Bird?" Well, after his first few starts at the old ballpark, the Tigers began drawing 30,000, 40,000 and -- occasionally -- 50,000 nearly every time he took the mound.

For me, it meant the difference between my $31.50 base pay for working a game, and an extra $45 or $50 I would earn in tips when there were fans to seat.

At the time, a full year of tuition for students who were residents of Michigan in Ann Arbor was only about $800.

"The Bird" paid for that and a little of the dormitory fees, too!

Some 20 years later, when I was an editor at The Boston Globe, I ran into Mark while watching some friends play in a rock-n-roll band in western Massachusetts. As I drove from Boston to the club, out west on the Massachusetts Turnpike, I recalled that Fidrych lived somewhere in the area.

As I moved around the club that night, the first thing I noticed about him was that hair. Still long and curly, piled high on the top of his head, it shown brightly in a spotlight.

"No! Can't be!" I thought to myself.

I moved closer, and it was -- "The Bird," in person! He looked quite nearly as youthful as when he pitched as a daffy 21-year-old for the Tigers, two decades earlier, and repeatedly looked at the ball and said, out loud, "Stay down, ball! Stay down!"

"Hey, Mark!" I screamed in his ear, as the band played too loudly. "I'm from Detroit! Man, you helped put me through college!"

"Cool, dude!" Fidrych said, not missing a beat, and with that huge, always-eager-for-life smile on his face. "Buy me a beer!"

We both laughed from our bellies. And I did. Right away, I went immediately to the bar and bought him one and carried it back.

"Hey, thanks guy!" Fidrych said, before taking a deep, long swig of the cold one.

But that did not end it with Mark. He was happy to hang out with me and my friends and to talk about the old days, and how he much he liked driving a truck, and to hear anything that yet another baseball fan that recognized him had to say.

Fidrych was what everyone always said he was, wonderfully daffy and utterly genuine. There was not a false bone or a bit of pretense in his entire body.

How sad to see him go.

But why am I not surprised, somehow, that his premature death happened while he was fixing his pick-up?

He was probably talking to it, too! (313) 222-2359 ... 004/sports


April 14th, 2009, 1:32 pm
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Joined: January 27th, 2005, 9:12 pm
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The Bird will remain one of my favorite Tigers memories. My heart felt sympathy to his family and friends.

He showed the world that you can become a legend in just a few short years when you show an absolute love for the game and it's fans

Rest peacefully Mark. :cry:

April 14th, 2009, 5:51 pm
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This is kind of cool I had to post this.

Jim Leyland explains 'Where's Waldo' experience in Fidrych photo

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Buzz up!
When we plunged into our archives for photographs of Mark Fidrych following the beloved right-hander’s death on Monday, we stumbled into some history.

Even if we didn’t know it right away.

The main photo on the front page of our Tuesday sports section showed Fidrych celebrating the final complete game of his career, an 11-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 2, 1980.

One fan in the background seems to stand out among the rest. He’s wearing a light-colored sports jacket, with a triumphant fist extended into the air. He has dark hair and looks to be in his mid-30s.

It’s Jim Leyland.

“I’m a little disappointed,” he told reporters in his office on Wednesday morning, as he reached for the newspaper. “You guys didn’t see me in the paper yesterday.”

How did that photo come to be?

Well, Leyland was managing the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate in Evansville, Ind., that year. Fidrych completed a rehabilitation assignment there as he worked his way back from arm problems.

Leyland was able to attend the game because the minor league season was over by then. He brought his mother, Veronica, to Tiger Stadium with him. She’s also visible in the photo, to the front and left of her son.

If you look closely enough, you can see the game ball in Veronica Leyland’s right hand.

“He gave that ball to my mom,” Leyland said Wednesday. “She wouldn’t let go of it.”

Leyland still has the ball today – along with decades of memories from his friendship with The Bird.

Fidrych, 54, was honored before Wednesday’s game – fittingly, against the White Sox – with a moment of silence and video tributes.


April 15th, 2009, 10:26 pm
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Joined: January 27th, 2005, 9:12 pm
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Location: Midland, MI
Awesome find! I think I'll keep it. Thank you!

April 16th, 2009, 4:44 am
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