"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
BOSTON (AP) — Mark Fidrych, former All-Star pitcher nicknamed “The Bird” whose career was shortened by injuries, was found dead today in an apparent accident at his farm. He was 54.
Worcester County district attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said a family friend found Fidrych about 2:30 p.m. beneath a dump truck at his Northborough, Mass., farm. He appeared to be working on the truck, Early said.
The curly-haired right-hander was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1976 when he went 19-9 with a 2.34 ERA and 24 complete games.
A strange Bird with flamingo legs, a sparrow's countenance and Harpo Marx plumage stood on the mound and talked to the baseball:
"Flow, gotta flow now, gotta flow.
"C'mon, gotta keep down. Let it fly."
The soliloquy was accompanied by wing-flapping gyrations. When it concluded, the Bird did a double knee bend. He pitched. The batter swung at the fastball and missed.
"Great pitch, way to flow, in the groove," the Bird said to the ball when he got it back.
So it went far into the night, and when the game was over, 47,855 human beings stood and shrieked in unison, "We want the Bird! We want the Bird! We want the Bird!"
So the Bird came mincing out of the dugout in his stocking feet. He took off his cap and waved it. He waved it again. He blew kisses to the multitudes, and he bowed and nodded. Then he bird-stepped back to the clubhouse.
This all actually happened. There is no fiction about the Bird, the Tigers' rookie righthander whose real name is Mark Fidrych. This scene occurred early last week after he defeated the first-place Yankees 5-1, but there was as much excitement five days later when 51,032 showed up to see Fidrych shut out Baltimore for his ninth win in 10 big-league starts. Detroit, a city of sports deprivation, vibrated the way it had not since the days of Denny McLain. Donald Shoemaker of nearby Warren even named his newborn son Mark Fidrych Shoemaker.
Back in the clubhouse after his victory over New York, the Bird took his achievement in stride. He drank a paper cup of milk on the rocks and chased it with four beers.
"It gives my body a rush," said Fidrych in Birdese. "Any player gets a rush when he hears cheers from the stands. My mind's not that blank."