If anyone doubted the national renown of Mark Fidrych before his death, I’m sure they understand it now.
Fidrych’s tragic passing on Monday quickly became national news as images of his short career and on-field antics were replayed over and over all across the globe. The tragic story scrolled across the bottom of every news channel and during every sporting event.
But Fidrych was just a baseball player, right? Hardly.
Fidrych’s persona transcended the baseball world as his like-ability propelled him to the social rank of a Pop Icon. In today’s terms, we’d say that Fidrych achieved “Rock Star Status.” As proof, The Bird was actually featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine (see image below). Highly unusual for a rookie baseball player making $16,500 a year.
Yesterday’s conversations with customers at Detroit Athletic Co. were all about Fidrych. Some even had tears in their eyes as they shared stories about The Bird. One customer told me that The Bird was her first baseball love because he didn’t have a pen to sign his autograph so he gave her a kiss on the cheek instead.
In a world full of imitators and copy cats, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych was a refreshing original. And his originality turned him into a Pop Icon America will never forget.