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)