“The Bird” was the word at Tiger Stadium in 1976

Fat Guy Corner



The sports world is filled with reruns on television of previous sporting events already played and in the history books. I have to be honest; I usually don’t watch many sports reruns even being the sports junkie I am. I know the outcome of the games so I feel no need to watch them again. What I will say, last week I did watch the Monday Night Baseball game from 1976 between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees. Why would the Fat Guy be watching a 1976 baseball game? The answer to that question is Mark “The Bird” Fidrych! The summer of 1976 in Detroit was all about the “The Bird” and how he captivated baseball and Detroit Tigers fans.

In that June 28th Monday Night game Fidrych pitched the Tigers to a complete game 5-1 victory to the delight of 47,000 plus fans at Tiger Stadium.

The games in which Fidrych didn’t pitch that year the Tigers average attendance was around 13,000. I say WOW to that.

The antics of Fidrych talking to the baseball, telling it what to do, along with grooming the mound to his liking every inning was entertainment. He also loved to jump around the infield close to the mound after every out was recorded. Mark Fidrych was nicknamed the Bird after the Big Bird character from Sesame Street. It was a great nickname as Fidrych resembled him a lot. I felt very fortunate the summer of 1976 as my father took me to watch him pitch three times that summer.

There was nothing like Tiger Stadium on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull if you ask me. The electricity outside of the stadium walking to the ball park was incredible and to experience it was magical. I loved sitting in the upper deck behind home plate. The chanting of the fans “The Bird is the Word” is something etched in my memory forever.

Mark Fidrych in 1976 went 19-9 with a 2.34 ERA and came away with Rookie of the Year honors in the American League. The biggest statistic and most impressive to me was he tossed 24 complete games in 29 starts! It was an era where pitchers went the distance on the hill and tossed nine innings of ball.

Fidrych spent his entire career in Detroit from 1976-1980, going 29-19 with a 3.10 ERA. I always wonder without the knee injury and shoulder issues what type of a career would have been possible for Fidrych. An unfortunate accident when he was working on a truck took Mark’s life at the young age of 54. The magic of 1976 and Mark “The Bird” Fidrych is one of my favorite childhood memories of my beloved Detroit Tigers.

If any of you Tiger fans have a memory of Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, email me – I would love to hear your story.

Lions 2020 schedule

The NFL schedule was released last Thursday night. I want to say I did not watch the three hours of coverage on NFL teams’ schedules. The positive is the Detroit Lions received no Monday Night Football games in 2020. The Lions only prime time game is on Turkey Day against the Houston Texans. The Lions don’t deserve Monday Night or Sunday Night prime time games. The Motor City Kitties open up at home with the Chicago Bears and then game two will be at Green Bay. I hate the fact there are two division games right off the bat for Detroit. I also hate the fact the first six Lions games in 2020 have them on the road four times. I do like the December 27th match up in Ford Field with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady. The Lions will be out of the playoff hunt and Tom will steam roll the pitiful Lions in front of a soldout Ford Field. I hope they play in front of fans but who knows? I look at the Lions schedule and conceivably they could start out 1-5 or 0-6. A start to the season like that and we can erase pencil head Matt “Fatricia” off the sidelines. I will not be shocked if 1-5 or 0-6 happens either!ROAR!!

I can be reached at thefatguy@mihomepaper.com.