I attended opening day at Miller Park to watch The Milwaukee Brewers win in the bottom of the ninth. My wife has gone to opening day 27 years in a row. Getting there was a pain, but I had the chance to spend the day with my best friend, my wife.
At the game we were talking about players and I mentioned the memorable Mark Fidrych. I even had the chance to see him pitch when I was younger, less gray and more worry-free. Imagine my disbelief when a few days later I am reading the paper and find out “The Bird” had died.
Personalities are what makes sports entertainment, dare I say, marketable. At least more marketable. Look at the Packers and Brett Favre, Payton and Eli, Muhammad, Jordan, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt. Who in baseball today can match Fidrych? People would pay simply to see him pitch. He was cheered at opposing stadiums and there was the desire to see him live.
For the record, I used to be a HUGE baseball fan. Two player strikes as a youth turned me toward football and I never looked back. But, I confess, thinking about watching Mark “The Bird” Fidrych brings me back to simpler times. He was outlandish but not controversial. He was just weird and likable and a good pitcher (at least his rookie season).
Today baseball has Bonds and A-Rod, but they don’t have a Fidrych. If they did, baseball would be more fun, more intriguing and even more marketable.
Grant A. Johnson