Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Bird is the Word

I was saddened today to learn about the death of major league pitcher Mark Fidrych, otherwise known as "The Bird" because of his resemblance to the famous yellow character of Sesame Street. Picture at left is from an old Sport Illustrated cover. "Fiddy" as his friends called him grew up in the town of Northborough, Mass., the town neighboring my native Westborough. Our towns had an ongoing sports rivalry and we still meet Algonquin Regional for Thanksgiving Day football games. My ex went to school with Fiddy and he often talked about him and their antics growing up, especially after Fiddy made the big leagues - small-town boy hits the big time; it made all of Worcester county proud!

A little about Mark's career - he had a "fairy tale" year in 1976, being named Rookie of the Year playing for the Detroit Tigers. He played five seasons with the Tigers until injury cut his major league career short. In 1982 he signed with the Red Sox and pitched a bit for their triple A team down in Pawtucket but further injury prevented him from returning to the majors. He was called a colorful character, the fans loved his habits of grooming the mound in mid-game, talking to himself and to the baseball, and he truly loved the game. I am awaiting some published news of funeral arrangements and may try to get down there to pay my respects to someone from back home.

All this has taken me a bit more aback than I imagined. Mark Fidrych was 54, the same age as me, and it sort of makes you stop and think about your own mortality. Actually, my high school class has lost members younger than me but still... It's sobering to think about it all and makes me want to seek out and reconnect with old friends. Since my 36th high school class reunion last October I've managed to do just that but some of those reconnections from fall have faded and I think I need to sit down in a cozy chair and make a bunch of phone calls. Life's too short.

Take good care all,

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