It’s been seven months since Detroit Tigers legend Mark Fidrych died — and I’m still sad. It seems like a chain reaction of sorts was set off this year as one Tigers celebrity after another left us.
Fidrych and George Kell both passed away at the start of the 2009 baseball season and Ernie Harwell announced his tragic news at season’s end. The last remnants of Tiger Stadium have been hauled away and the corner of Michigan & Trumbull is nothing more than a barren field. It’s been a rough year for those of us who cherish the rich history of the Tigers.
Today we remember the game that made Mark “The Bird” Fidrych famous. It was a night game played at Tiger Stadium on June 28, 1976. The Tigers squared off against the New York Yankees for a nationally televised game. At the time, very few people outside of Michigan knew much about Fidrych. Even the announcers were mispronouncing his name.
But as the game progressed, millions of people watching the game were enthralled. Fidrych played with his patented child-like enthusiasm and all of his antics were on full display.
The sold out crowd at Tiger Stadium went wild every time Fidrych took to the mound. After the game was over, not a single sole left the stadium. The crowd gave Fidrych a standing ovation and refused to yield until The Bird made a curtain call.
Fidrych had to be retrieved from the Tigers clubhouse. Tears flowed down Fidrych’s face after he saw what was going on in the stands. He was emotionally overwelmed by the crowd’s reaction.
In an instant, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych was a national celebrity. This video footage captures the last moments of the game as well as Fidrych’s famous curtain call.