Great Baseball Nicknames:’ The Bird’- Mark Fidrych. Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych’s time in the sun was very short- the summer of 1976. He had an incredible rookie season with the Detroit Tigers. He seemed to have come out of nowhere. He wasn’t a highly touted prospect. He not only pitched excellent baseball that summer but was a real genuine character. He caught the public’s imagination – doing things like talking to the baseball. Anymore we seem to have manufactured characters- players who are calculating – marketing themselves. Mark Fidrych was just a character. He was real. I was lucky enough to see his first game on television- it was on the Game of The Week one Saturday early in the season. I looked in the paper to see the pitching match up and I saw a name I wasn’t familiar at all with Fidrych [0-0] pitching for the Tigers. His odd mannerisms caught my attention that day- and his enthusiasm. It wasn’t long before he caught the attention of all of baseball and was drawing sell out crowds on the days he pitched. He was a rock star. Sadly in spring training the next season he was injured, tried to come back to soon and hurt his arm- and was soon out of baseball. He never ‘cashed in’ with the big money contract- but never seemed bitter about his fate. “The Bird”- nickname came about with his resemblance to Seseme Streets’s Big Bird. He is also the only baseball player to ever made it on the cover of the Rolling Stone. Tragically Mark “The Bird” Fidrych was killed in a freak dump truck accident in 2009- at the young age of 54. Below also- a song written by The Baseball Project- ‘1976’- about Mark.