Nickname of the Week: Mark 'The Bird' Fidrych
Baseball has a long history of hilarious, ironic and irreverent nicknames. During the offseason, we'll be exploring the best of these monikers on a weekly basis. This week, we take a look at Mark "The Bird" Fidrych.
Mark Fidrych only appeared in 58 big league games, but his quirky mound maneuvers and eccentric personality cemented a legacy that lives on more than three decades after this retirement.
The Massachusetts native was first dubbed "The Bird" in the Minors because of his curly blonde hair and 6-foot-3 Big Bird frame. Fidrych was also very bird-like and fidgety on the mound, talking to himself, chatting with baseballs, aiming his pitches like darts and even throwing back balls that he claimed "had hits in them."
His fans, known as the "Bird Watchers," came out in droves to see Fidrych perform on the diamond. During his rookie 1976 season, crowds in his 18 home starts equaled about half of Tiger Stadium's total attendance for the year. Fidrych also lived a pretty simple life for a ballplayer, driving a green subcompact car and staying in a small apartment in Detroit. And yes, the ladies loved everything about him -- especially his long golden locks.
Fidrych won 19 games in that first season and took home Rookie of the Year honors, but suffered an arm injury the following year and threw just 162 more career innings from 1977-'80. But despite his lack of longevity, there may have not been a more fun player to watch take the mound.
-- Matt Monagan / MLB.com