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BCubb2003
04-07-2008, 08:19 AM
Those who remember him at all remember the goofy guy who talked to the ball, had an amazing rookie year, then burned out the next year. But consider how he was used. In his first 22 starts, at 21 years old, he averaged 9.5 innings a game, including a 10 inning game, two 11 inning games and a 12 inning game. His first six starts were complete games. Unfortunately, and perhaps tellingly, pitch counts aren't available. His manager was Ralph Houk.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/gl.cgi?n1=fidryma01&year=1976&t=p

flyer85
04-07-2008, 10:15 AM
IIRC, he injured his knee next year in spring training(goofing around), came back too soon, which altered his delivery and he hurt his arm as a result.

westofyou
04-07-2008, 11:08 AM
His K rate was too low, the league would have caught up to him... BTW was not 1976 a GREAT year... just a fabulous baseball year.

OldRightHander
04-07-2008, 11:12 AM
His K rate was too low, the league would have caught up to him... BTW was not 1976 a GREAT year... just a fabulous baseball year.

Especially considering how it ended.

RFS62
04-07-2008, 11:30 AM
Fidrych is my all time favorite pitcher. That year was electric, wonderful in every way.

cumberlandreds
04-07-2008, 11:32 AM
Especially considering how it ended.


Exactlly! :)

The Bird was the pentultimate in being a one year wonder. He had a truly great year. It was amazing how he packed in the crowds everywhere he went. I always thought the Tigers just burned out his arm for that one year. He tried for a few seasons to come back but couldn't recapture that magic. I remember the Tigers would announce a start to be made by him and then "pull" him at the last minute after the tickets were sold. I don't think it took Tiger fans long to figure that one out.:)

RedlegJake
04-07-2008, 12:53 PM
Bird was one of those players you rarely see in the game anymore - a goofball character. I agree with WOY, Fidrych was successful in part because he was new and his antics were distracting, but his stuff was rather ordinary actually and the league would have caught up to him eventually, imo. It's just unfortunate that the careless handling of injuries, the "play through it" attitude, so prevalent then hastened the end for him.

I miss guys like Fidrych, and Bill Spaceman Lee et al. They added a zaniness to games they were in. My mewmory must be slipping. What was the name of the Reds reliever who'd stomp around the mound and talk to the ball and then throw fire? Drat I hate it when something's on the tip of my tongue and I can't bring it out. Guy was a nutcase and for a short part of a season darn well unhittable. Then he lost it just as fast as he came on the scene.

You don't see many zanies anymore. Baseball discourages it for one thing, and I think the players do too.

George Anderson
04-07-2008, 12:54 PM
What was the name of the Reds reliever who'd stomp around the mound and talk to the ball and then throw fire? Drat I hate it when something's on the tip of my tongue and I can't bring it out. Guy was a nutcase and for a short part of a season darn well unhittable. Then he lost it just as fast as he came on the scene.

.


Brad "The Animal" Lesley

flyer85
04-07-2008, 01:04 PM
Fidrych was like a rock star on tour. Stadiums were filled at home and on the road. Everyone seemingly wanted to see "The Bird".

The thing about Fidrych is that the goofiness was not an act. It was who he was ... quite a bit off center.

SunDeck
04-07-2008, 01:07 PM
This Week In Baseball had a piece on him that year. I remember it because it was the first time my brother and I had heard of him. Of course, for the rest of the summer we both talked to the baseball when pitching in pick up games.
And yes, 1976 was such a great summer. All the bicentennial stuff and yes, a great, great baseball year.

Man, to be 11 years old again.

Chip R
04-07-2008, 01:11 PM
And yes, 1976 was such a great summer. All the bicentennial stuff and yes, a great, great baseball year.



And the caps. Don't forget the caps.

George Anderson
04-07-2008, 01:11 PM
I saw Fidrych pitch in Indianapolis in the early 80's while with Evansville. He wasn't doing his Hijinks back then, i think he realized he would look foolish talking to baseballs when he couldn't get anybody out.

It's ok to be a flake if you are good at what you do.

westofyou
04-07-2008, 01:14 PM
Like I said I loved 1976.

I wrote this about two years ago about 1976

1. The Great Eight - When the 1976 season started the Reds were the World Champions, their starting nine was a phenomenal group, a mixture of speed, and power vets and youngsters. At the season though they were just a good ball team, in retrospect some had to even make their mark in the game yet. This is evidenced by the Great Eights’ lifetime numbers up until the 1976 season.


Pete Rose - 8221 ab - .310/.379/.432/.810
Tony Perez - 5799 ab - .285/.348/.484/.831
Joe Morgan - 5406 ab - .278/.396/.430/.826
Johnny Bench - 5406 ab - .271/.342/.487/.829
Dave Concepcion - 2399 ab - .256/.309/.344/.653
Cesar Geronimo - 1681 ab - .255/.319/.365/.683
George Foster - 1420 ab - .263/.320/.435/.755
Ken Griffey - 776 ab - .298/.378/.409/.786

2. Free Agency era is ushered in. Marvin Miller wields a mighty bat and the players finally achieve the freedom they have pursued. Spring Training delayed as the owners lock the players out, On March 19th 1976, fans heave a collective sigh of relief as a settlement is reached. all 24 teams open camp, it would be the last year that baseball had an even division alignment, with 6 teams in each division.

3. 1976 is known as the year that Finely tried to sell off Vida Blue, Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers for a grand total of 3.5 million dollars. This deal was vetoed by Kuhn and caused a stir that is still debated to this day. But it was a move that Kuhn made in early April that shocked many people and eventually affected the AL East pennant race. On 4-2-76 Finely traded unsigned Ken Holzman and Reggie Jackson for Don Baylor (unsigned as well) Mike Torrez and Paul Mitchell. This was a major trade that jolted the fans of both teams. Obviously it jolted Reggie as well and he decided to hold out, upsetting his new team and teammates. Eventually Reggie relented and joined the team. But he also got a 60 K raise out of it and upset his teammates, including Jim Palmer who quipped, “When is the Messiah coming?.” Eventually he did show, a month later and the Orioles who only scored 36 runs in 15 games in April needed him more then they wanted to admit, as they finished the month in last place 5 games behind the 1st place Yankees, they would finish 10 games back and in second place, leaving fans to wonder what if Reggie had shown up on time?

4. Mark Fidrych and Ron LeFlore. You can’t think of 1976 without touching on The Bird. 21 year old Fidyrch took the league by the storm, talking to the ball and completing 24 games at the age 21. Meanwhile Ron LeFlore a former felon in his 3rd year in major league ball was the lead off hitter for the American League in the All Star Game. Both were great stories for a team that had lost 107 games in the first year of Al Kalines retirement and the city of Detroit rode the Bird craze hard and fast. If you blinked you might have missed that year in Motown, it was something special and something that doesn’t happen very often, especially in this hitting era.

5. Bert Blyleven - Calvin Griffith the dinosaur of owners who ran the Minnesota Twins invented the trading dump of potential free agents when he couldn’t reach and agreement with Bert on a contract. Seeing the potential of losing an asset was shocking to the tight fisted Griffith, who shopped Blyleven to the highest bidder as the June 15th trade deadline loomed. Finally dealing him to Texas with Danny Thompson (who died of leukemia) for Roy Smally Jr., Bill Singer, Mike Cubbage, Jim Gideon and 250 K. This deal was noticed around the league and with the advent of the free agent era would soon become the way many teams would deal with the impending free agents on their teams throughout the years.

6. Here come the agents - Jerry Kapstein was a major player agent as the fee agent era started. He was a man that Reds GM Bob Howsam loathed enough to want to avoid, how bad did he loath him? Enough to deal two of his clients after the 1976 season, when he unloaded Tony Perez and Rawley Eastwick. An influential man in a changing time Kapstein caused a lot of owners to mumble under their breath, including this nugget uttered by Charlie O’ Finely “Kapstein kept me in the dark continuously, he never came to visit me once.” Somehow I found it hard to feel sorry for the old goat back then and I still can’t to this day. Go dance on your own dugout Charlie.

7. Reds Pass on Free Agents - Fresh off the 1976 title the free agent draft started, rather than pick players like most of the league the Reds decide to address their picks with a single statement and a stance that would hamstring the team in the early eighties as they faced a rebuild. the statement was this: “In fairness to the players who have won the World Championship for us two years in a row and considering how our organization is structured. We do not think it would right for the Cincinnati organization to get into the bidding contests that must come out of this draft.”

8. Charlie O’s reaction - As noted in Lords of the Realm, Marvin Miller’s greatest fear was that the market would open completely. It was Finley who suggested that very thing. Instead he watched his old players be picked up and noted “What the owners are doing is stupid, they are going to bankrupt themselves.” Over in Minnesota Griffith added, “Sports today are sick, if I’m going to stay in this I’m going to need a rich partner.”

9. Ted Turner in the House - 1976 is the year Ted Turner came to Atlanta, starting the slow change that would produce the team that we’ve been looking up at since 1991. It’s also the year that he was slapped with a tampering charge for messing with Gary Mathews, whose son is hitting .329 as I write this. The free agent season and the appearance of sharks like Ted caused the worst hot stove season for trades in years when only 14 transactions were made. Times were a changing.

10. Attendance record - 1976 was a year of great growth in attendance around the game. Nowhere was this more evidenced then in Cincinnati were the Reds lead both league in home attendance with 2,629,708, over 1.8 million went to see them on the road. Alas that still is the Reds highest attendance, and that gives them the distinction of being the only team in baseball that hit their attendance peak in the 70’s and the nearest team to them is the Dodgers whose 1982 season produced 3,608,881fannies in the seats. Only five other teams can claim to have attendance peaks in the 1980’s and their is a good chance that one of them (1988 Mets) might lose their title this season. One could only hope that a 30 year old attendance record could fall in Cincinnati some day, but if it takes only perfection to top 2.6 million then it’s not going to happen very soon.

RedlegJake
04-07-2008, 01:51 PM
Brad "The Animal" Lesley

Thats the one. Thanks George.

Sea Ray
04-07-2008, 04:44 PM
6. Here come the agents - Jerry Kapstein was a major player agent as the fee agent era started. He was a man that Reds GM Bob Howsam loathed enough to want to avoid, how bad did he loath him? Enough to deal two of his clients after the 1976 season, when he unloaded Tony Perez and Rawley Eastwick. An influential man in a changing time Kapstein caused a lot of owners to mumble under their breath, including this nugget uttered by Charlie O’ Finely “Kapstein kept me in the dark continuously, he never came to visit me once.” Somehow I found it hard to feel sorry for the old goat back then and I still can’t to this day. Go dance on your own dugout Charlie.

Was it Bob Howsam or was it Dick Wagner? As I recall Bob was turning over the reigns to Wagner along in there. My recollection is that Wagner took most of the heat for that era of Reds history.

westofyou
04-07-2008, 05:13 PM
Was it Bob Howsam or was it Dick Wagner? As I recall Bob was turning over the reigns to Wagner along in there. My recollection is that Wagner took most of the heat for that era of Reds history.

Howsam, the advent of holdouts and oncoming free agency was what drove Howsam to handing the reins over to Wagner in 78.

He hated agents, it was against his handshake is law approach to the world.

RedlegJake
04-07-2008, 06:35 PM
Howsam was the last of the great old time GMs and so adamant against the changing scene he retired. His attitude probably influenced Wagner. In a lot of ways 1976 was the end of an entire era. Usually eras in baseball have to due with player peformances and styles -ie deadball, pitching of the 60s, but team building and player acquisition have eras, too. Pre draft, Pre farm system, post free agent etc.

macro
04-07-2008, 06:43 PM
Bird was one of those players you rarely see in the game anymore - a goofball character...I miss guys like Fidrych, and Bill Spaceman Lee et al. They added a zaniness to games they were in...You don't see many zanies anymore. Baseball discourages it for one thing, and I think the players do too.

This discussion can't continue without mention of The Mad Hungarian, Al Hrabosky. He stomped around, he slammed rosin bags to the ground, he cursed, he shook catchers off with a scowl...

http://www.survivinggrady.com/hrabosky.jpghttp://mlblogs.mlblogs.com/mlblogscom/images/alhrabosky.jpg


My favorite memory of the '76 season is the seven Reds that were chosen for the All Star team, including five of the starting eight!

GAC
04-07-2008, 09:40 PM
What is interesting is that Fidrych made the Tigers as a non-roster invitee out of spring training, made his major-league debut on April 20, and didn't make his first start until mid-May. He only made that start because the scheduled starting pitcher had the flu.

His career ended due to injury; but it was due to a torn rotator cuff that wasn't diagnosed until 1985 by Dr. James Andrews. Too late.

Today, Mark Fidrych lives on a farm in Northborough, and is also a licensed and working commercial trucker. His family currently owns and runs a diner in Northborough called Chet's Diner.

I thought this was funny....

In one of Bill James' baseball books, he quoted the Yankees' Graig Nettles as telling about an at-bat against Fidrych, who, as usual, was talking to the ball before pitching to Nettles. Graig reportedly said to his bat, "Never mind what he says to the ball--hit it over the outfield fence!" Nettles struck out. "Damn," he said. "Japanese bat. Doesn't understand a word of English.

sonny
04-07-2008, 11:32 PM
Bird was one of those players you rarely see in the game anymore - a goofball character. I agree with WOY, Fidrych was successful in part because he was new and his antics were distracting, but his stuff was rather ordinary actually and the league would have caught up to him eventually, imo. It's just unfortunate that the careless handling of injuries, the "play through it" attitude, so prevalent then hastened the end for him.

I miss guys like Fidrych, and Bill Spaceman Lee et al. They added a zaniness to games they were in. My mewmory must be slipping. What was the name of the Reds reliever who'd stomp around the mound and talk to the ball and then throw fire? Drat I hate it when something's on the tip of my tongue and I can't bring it out. Guy was a nutcase and for a short part of a season darn well unhittable. Then he lost it just as fast as he came on the scene.

You don't see many zanies anymore. Baseball discourages it for one thing, and I think the players do too.

Who was that one crazy dude who played for the Expos in the latter part of the 90's. After every pitch, he'd throw his arms up in the are and just gyrate there on the mound.

God, it's killing me that I can't remember his name. Bret Boone hit a homerun off him in Montreal and stuck his tongue out and flailed his arms at him from the dugout.

Spitball
04-08-2008, 12:24 AM
I think I've shared this story a time or two through the years, but I played his high school team back in the the early 1970's. He was from Northborough, Massachusetts, but went to a private school (maybe Worchester Academy). His teammates were all calling him Big Bird, but I noticed his coach was calling him Big Fid. He had this long curly hair that went down his back and partially covered his number. He pitched to only one batter against us (hit batsman) but played (maybe) left field. We also played St. John's Prep my junior and senior years and faced John Tudor. He was a much bigger high school name at the time. Pentucket High had a kid named Sanchez who was drafted by the Brewers. I honestly thought he was better than either Fidrych or Tudor. I also played against Richie Conigliaro, Tony and Billy's youngest brother, who went to Scituate High.