Mark Fidrych

September 10, 2006

In this picture, taken in 1980, Mark Fidrych attempts to simultaneously hide and caress a baseball in his hands as if cradling a beloved and terminally ill pet in a veterinary waiting room. He is four years and several trips to the disabled list removed from giving the world, in terms of sheer joy, the greatest single-season performance in baseball history. The marginalia on the back of this card clings desperately to that year, 1976, like a profoundly lonely middle-aged man still masturbating to the image of a beautiful woman he somehow lucked into a brief fling with the summer after college ended. Fidrych’s rookie of the year award for 1976 is mentioned, as is his 2 innings pitched in the 1976 all-star game, and the space-filling cartoon along the left-hand border features a baseball player, generic except for the curly Fid-fro billowing out from under the hat, holding a giant trophy entitled “1976 MAJOR LEAGUE MAN OF THE YEAR,” an award I’ve never heard of (and I’ve wasted much of my life poring over the baseball encyclopedia like a rabbi reading the Torah). The statistics alone are left to tell about the other years: in 1977 he pitched in only 11 games; the next year he pitched in only 3; and in 1979, the last season listed on the back of this card, Fidrych pitched his fewest innings yet, just 15, losing three games, winning none, and getting battered for 17 runs, all earned. In this picture, taken in 1980, it is over. I was 12 years old when I first looked at this card, in which the fallen god, the all-time single-season leader in joy, seems to have literally signed his name as “Mush.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: