Column: Remembering The Bird

A brief note on the passing of a Detroit Tigers favorite

Somedays, one cannot get enough news about a certain event and even though The Chronicle doesn’t have a “sports section,” I was looking for one last tidbit before hitting the sack.

I know for a fact that most of your readers who at one time in their lives traded baseball cards remember the Bird. 1976 is just around the corner in the memories of many of us.

I was living in San Francisco at the time and freezing at the ball games at Candlestick, but out of the fog, through the times zones, came the Bird and he put Detroit on the baseball map and he made me wish that I was back in the Midwest where real baseball was played on warm balmy nights in the summer.

He was only 21.

[Editor's note: Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, a former All Star pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, died on Monday at his home in Massachusetts.]


  1. By Sandi Smith
    April 16, 2009 at 11:22 am | permalink

    I remember my older brother taking my sister and I down to see The Bird pitch. We got to the ball park and the game was sold out! We calculated his likely next starts at home and bought tickets. We were not dissappointed. He was a character on the field as well as an ace on the mound.

  2. By Sue Lackey
    April 16, 2009 at 11:25 am | permalink

    “The Bird” was the perfect baseball player for the time. Slightly goofy and highly, if eccentrically, talented, he provided relief from a rotten economy, cynical political system and war. We could use a new Bird.

  3. By MK
    April 16, 2009 at 12:31 pm | permalink

    I was a huge baseball fan as a kid…I lost my enthusiasm for the game during the strike in the 80s and it never came back, but in 1976, I was 12 years old. I remember that summer because it was the Bicentennial that year and it was the year of the Bird.

    I went to the very first game he pitched in the majors – it was in May and he pitched a 2 hitter. Soon after, I got a “Bird” T shirt. It was bright yellow with a rubbery iron on decal on the front – I made sure to dry it turned inside out so the decal wouldn’t come off. The Detroit Free Press also printed an iron on that you could make your own T shirt. I did that, too.

    The Bird’s passing (even though it was premature) makes me feel very old. End of an era for me – my favorite Tiger of all time is now dead.

  4. April 16, 2009 at 9:57 pm | permalink

    Here’s a blog post I recently did with a clip from “MediaBurn” on Fidrych:

    link to blog post

    it’s a 1985 interview.

  5. By Bruce Laidlaw
    April 18, 2009 at 3:54 pm | permalink

    I last saw the Bird when I was running around the track at the U of M track and tennis building. the Bird was throwing pitches, but he stopped to clown for a little boy. The kid wasn’t sure whether to laugh or run away.