Former MLB All-Star pitcher Mark "The Bird" Fidrych has been found dead in an apparent accident at his farm in Northborough, Massachusetts. He was 54.
Worcester County district attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. says a family friend found Fidrych about 2:30 p.m. Monday beneath a pickup truck. He appeared to be working on the truck, Early said.
Fidrych was known as "The Bird" for his colorful antics on the mound. He was also famous for talking to himself and to the baseball.
Fidrych captured the imagination of fans with his antics on the field. He would crouch down on the pitcher's mound and fix cleat marks, what became known as "manicuring the mound," talk to himself, talk to the ball, aim the ball like a dart, strut around the mound after every out, and throw back balls that "had hits in them," insisting they be removed from the game.
Drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1974, he won Rookie of the Year honors in 1976. A torn rotator cuff ended his career at the age of 29.
For the 1976 season, Fidrych was nominated for several awards and ranked among baseball's leaders in multiple categories.
- AL Rookie of the Year Award
- Tiger of the Year award from the Detroit baseball writers
- MLB leader in ERA (2.34)
- MLB leader in Adjusted ERA+(158)
- AL leader in complete games (24)
- Finished 2nd in AL Cy Young Award voting
- Finished 11th in AL MVP Award voting
- #3 in AL in walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP) (1.079)
- #4 in AL in wins (19)
- #4 in AL in win percentage (.679)
- #5 in AL in bases on balls per 9 inning pitched (1.91)
- #5 in AL in shutouts (4)
Here are three of his quotes:
"When you're a winner you're always happy, but if you're happy as a loser you'll always be a loser."
"Sometimes I get lazy and let the dishes stack up, but they don't stack too high. I've only got four dishes."
"That ball has a hit in it, so I want to get back in the ball bag and goof around with the other balls in there. Maybe it'll learn some sense and come out as a pop-up next time."
Fidrych lived with his wife Ann, whom he married in 1986, on a 107-acre farm in Northborough. They have a daughter, Jessica.
Besides fixing up his farmhouse, he worked as a contractor hauling gravel and asphalt in a ten-wheeler. On weekends he helped out at his mother-in-law's business, Chet's Diner in Northborough.
Please click MLB.com for a very nice article with a video interview with Mark "The Bird" Fidrych.
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