Mark Fidrych, Dead at 54

Nick BarnowskiCorrespondent IApril 13, 2009

27 Sep 1999: Mark Fidrych waves to the crowd during the last game played at the Tiger Stadium against the Kansas City Royals in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Royals 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Ezra O. Shaw  /Allsport

In stunning and sad news, former Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych was killed today in an accident on his farm.

"The Bird," as many fans knew him, was found by a family friend underneath a dump truck on his 107-acre farm in Northborough, Massachusetts this afternoon around 2:30.

Fidrych, known for his crazy antics on the field—which included talking to the ball and grooming the pitcher's mound—won 19 games in 1976 for the Tigers as a rookie. His ERA was 2.34 and he was named the starting pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game in the same season.

His first Major League game was a complete game two-hitter against the Cleveland Indians. It was one of 24 complete games "The Bird" would throw during that magical 1976 season.

While I never did get to see "The Bird" pitch, I know many Tigers fans who have and said that he was worth every penny to go watch.

One of Fidrych's memorable quotes is:  "When you're a winner you're always happy, but if you're happy as a loser, you'll always be a loser."

"Baseball will miss him. They missed him because he didn't have as long as a career as everybody would have liked in the first place. It's just horrible," former Orioles pitcher and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer said. "He did embrace life. I remember him trying to play golf when he couldn't play golf and enjoying every minute of it."

Mark Fidrych, dead at the age of 54.

(Palmer quote courtesy of ESPN.com)

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