RIP The Bird

I was a tad too young to fully appreciate Mark Fidrych’s magical 1976 rookie season, but I remember being taken by the loose-limbed pitcher named after Big Bird, as (the likely apocryphal) legend has it. To a kid growing up in the late Seventies and taken with baseball as practiced by the colorful, bickering and triumphant Yankees of the Reggie Jackson-Thurman Munson “Bronx is Burning” era, The Bird was a nice counterweight, a good guy for the kids who appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with Big Bird, a pitcher who talked to baseballs, groomed the mound with his hands while kneeling, and whose curly blonde hair bounced from underneath his Detroit Tigers cap while thrilling a generation of future baseball fans still in the first decade of their lives.

So it was sad to see the news that he died earlier this week at age 54 while working on his Massachusetts farm.

For a kid born into a Watergate world and raised on a cocktail of Star Wars, Sesame Street and Son-of-Sam tabloid wars, The Bird was very much part of our youth.

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