Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Death Of Mark Fidrych

As a general matter, I don’t want to know anything personal about the baseball players I follow. Many of them are testosterone poisoned jerks. I follow baseball players as a collection of statistics in a uniform. I enjoy knowing the history of baseball and of baseball statistics so I can understand events in the context of baseball’s 150 year history. I don’t need to know the personalities of the players. 

An exception was Mark Fidrych who died yesterday at his farm in Massachusetts.

Mr. Fidrych seemed a genuine eccentric without affectation. I recall well his 1976 season with the Detroit Tigers. He would talk to the ball and romp around the pitcher’s mound. It was not an act.

From his New York Times obituary

He often talked to the baseball, fidgeted on the mound and got down on his knees to scratch at the dirt…. and was finicky about baseballs, refusing to reuse one if an opposing player got a hit, and rejecting fresh ones he declared to have dents…. He liked to jump over the white infield lines on his way to the mound, with a wide, toothy grin that, coupled with his hair, made him easy to spot even from the upper reaches of Tiger Stadium.

From the Boston Globe—

“…In 1986 he married Ann Pantazis, whose parents owned Chet’s Diner. Every Saturday, Mr. Fidrych could be found at the diner, often waiting tables. “He loved it. Every Saturday he was there,” said his mother-in-law, Nancy Pantazis. “He was a wonderful guy. I couldn’t ask for a better son-in-law, and he’ll be missed.” In Northborough, Mr. Fidrych and his family lived with his wife and daughter, Jessica, on the farm. He also worked as a commercial trucker. “A lot of people think that Mark Fidrych made enough money where he didn’t have to work,” he told the Globe in 1996. “Well, I made enough to get me a 10-wheeler and a piece of land and a house, and now I’ve got to support that.” Lest anyone think he was bitter about the injuries and the departure from the big time, he added, “What I got out of baseball is what I have today, and I’ve got to look at that. I still see some of my friends that never made it past Triple-A. I made that last big step. I was lucky.”

It was always odd to see pictures of Mr. Fidrych as older than his early 20’s. I always thought of him in the context of that one year of his greatest fame.

I suppose my limited image of him would be a reason why baseball players should be wary of fans as I am of  players. We trap these people in a way that does not allow for them to move ahead with life. If they stay young, than we stay young.

I’m sorry that Mr. Fidrych has passed. 

April 14, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,


  1. He was truly one of a kind.

    Comment by jobsanger | April 14, 2009

  2. Amen.

    I was hoping you would post a piece. I’ll always remember that year, the fun and excitement Mark Fidrych brought to the game and the enjoyment you got from it all.

    Thanks for including the bit from the Boston Globe – it adds a nice dimension to what I had read in the NYT.

    Comment by Newton | April 15, 2009

  3. I dated Mark Fidrych after meeting him at Buddy’s Pizzeria in Detroit. They were hosting a Miss Bocci Ball Contest. The winner would get a date with then Rookie of the Year, Dave Rozema. Prior to the announcement of the winner, Mark asked me to sit down with him and a few friends. I was enamoured with him. They announced me as the winner and I forfeited the prize to go out with Mark. We had a blast.

    Comment by Janet Murray (Moldovan) | April 17, 2009

  4. Thanks for these comments and for the insight and first-hand account added by Janet.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | April 18, 2009

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