It was rough becoming a Red Sox fan in the 1980s. I sought solace in literature, namely baseball biographies. That’s 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 some of the pieces here (don’t neglect Joe McNally’s).
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.