Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mark Fidrych (#115)

This was signed in person at the Toronto All-Star Fan Fest in 1991. What I remember best about this, is that after I got this card signed and a few others, I needed to use the washroom. After I finished, and was washing my hands, Fidrych comes running in. He did his business, and then left without washing his hands. I thought it was pretty funny. This card differs from it's 1977 Topps counterpart by not having the A.L. ALL-STAR banner and Topps All-Star Rookie Cup on the card. Mark was Rookie of the Year in 1976 when he won 19 games. Fidrych also captured the imagination of fans with his antics on the field. He would crouch down on the pitcher's mound and fix cleat marks, what became known as "manicuring the mound", talk to himself, talk to the ball, aim the ball like a dart, strut around the mound after every out, and throw back balls that "had hits in them," insisting they be removed from the game. Mark Fidrych also was known for shaking everyone's hands after a game. Fidrych tore the cartilage in his knee fooling around in the outfield during spring training in 1977. He picked up where he left off after his return from the injury, but about six weeks after his return, during a game against Baltimore, he felt his arm just, in his words, "go dead." It was a torn rotator cuff, but it would not be diagnosed until 1985. Fidrych pitched his last MLB game on October 1, 1980 in Toronto, going five innings and giving up four earned runs, while picking up the win in a 11-7 Tigers victory which was televised in Detroit. At the end of the 1981 season, Detroit gave Fidrych his outright release and he signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox, playing for one of their minor league teams. However, his torn rotator cuff, still undiagnosed and untreated, never healed. At age 29, he was forced to retire. He passed away in 2009 as the result of an unfortunate farm equipment accident on his farm.

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