It was rough becoming a Red Sox fan in the 1980s. I sought solace in literature, namely baseball biographies. This was how I learned of Mark Fidrych.
Even to a child it was obvious that Fidrych was singular. But it was by reading posthumous tribute that I learned how much so. Writer Paul Auster calls Fidrych “perhaps the most lovable person ever to play the game.”
If you don’t know much about him, read a few of the pieces here. (Don’t neglect the Joe McNally one.)
Fidrych’s pitching arm was prematurely damaged, but his graciousness and cheer remained unscathed:
“What I got out of baseball is what I have today, and I’ve got to look at that… I got a great life now,” he said, sitting in his living room. “I got a family, I got a house, I got a dog. I would like my career to have been longer, but you can’t look back. You have to look to the future.”
Carney Lansford, a former Red Sox third baseman (I can still recite the 1982 lineup) eulogized him well:
“I don’t think you’ll ever see someone like that come around again… He was just great for the game. That’s what the game needed, more guys like him.”
There isn’t a game around that doesn’t need more guys like Mark Fidrych.