“Mark Fidrych brought baseball back to the people. He made it popular again.”
Mark Fidrych won the American League’s Rookie of the Year award in 1976. Fidrych was 19-9 for the Detroit Tigers that season. His 2.34 ERA was the best in both Major Leagues. Fidrych was second in the AL in the Cy Young award voting. Mark Fidrych’s “out pitch” was his sinking fastball. Fidrych injured his knee and then his arm in 1977, and although he pitched professionally until 1983, he never regained his form.
Forty years ago, Mark Fidrych was the talk of baseball. The 21 year-old rookie was so successful that he was nominated to be the American League’s starting pitcher in the All-Star game. Mark Fidrych became a lovable figure because of his antics. Fidrych would “talk to the ball” and “pat down the mound.” Attendance at Tiger Stadium would spike dramatically on days that he pitched. I met Mark Fidrych in 1981 when he was pitching for the Evansville Triplets. Mark always was very pleasant and friendly. He tried to make a comeback for several seasons after he hurt his arm; however, he never was successful. In 1985, Dr. James Andrews diagnosed Fidrych with a torn rotator cuff. Dr. Andrews operated, but the damage already done to the shoulder was too much for Fidrych to continue pitching. Mark Fidrych did not pitch in the Major Leagues for a lengthy period of time. However, anyone who saw him pitch, never will forget him.