All-Star pitcher Mark "The Bird" Fidrych dies at 54
BOSTON ” Former All-Star pitcher Mark “the Bird” Fidrych was found dead Monday in an apparent accident at his farm. He was 54.
Worcester County district attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. saids a family friend found Fidrych about 2:30 p.m. Monday beneath a dump truck at his farm. He appeared to be working on the truck, Early said.
The colorful right-hander was the American League rookie of the year in 1976 when he went 19-9 with a 2.34 ERA. He spent all five of his major league seasons with the Detroit Tigers, compiling a 29-19 record and a 3.10 ERA.
His career was cut short by injuries.
Fidrych attempted a comeback in 1983 with the Boston Red Sox and went to their Triple A team in Pawtucket, R.I. But he never pitched in the majors after 1980 and retired in 1983.
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He later owned a trucking business.
Fidrych acquired the nickname “the Bird” because of his resemblance to the Big Bird character on the Sesame Street television show. During games, he would bend down and groom the mound with his hands, appear to talk to the baseball and slap high fives with teammates in the middle of the diamond.
He started the 1976 All-Star game after opening the season with seven wins in eight decisions. He finished that season with 24 complete games.
But he tore knee cartilage during spring training the following year and was placed on the disabled list until May 24. He sustained a shoulder injury in July 1977 and ended up pitching in just 58 games during his major league career.
State police detectives are investigating the circumstances of his death, Early said.