When I was growing up, baseball games were only shown on television on Monday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Cards of cards brings out what I have grown to love about baseball- all of the humor and antics that went on after the games concluded. Just by analyzing a player’s photo on a card, you can see his personality come through. Ball clubs that were in the hunt at the time were often shown, or, as they did in 1976, feature Mark Fidrych (also known as Mark “The Bird” Fidrych ). Mark came to be known for his odd antics, such as talking to the baseball or doing extensive ground work to his mound. He would get down onto his hands and knees and move the dirt around to get the consistency just right before proceeding with the game. As I have aged, I too talk to myself and get down onto my own hands and knees (to work the flowerbeds at my house per my wife’s orders). With that being said, I would place Mark “The Bird” as my number one card of cards.
Perhaps his most interesting photo was his Sports Illustrated cover that shows him doing a high leg kick with Big Bird from Sesame Street looming behind him. Sesame Street and a major league pitcher in the same photo- every child’s dream, right? “The Bird” nickname came to be due to Mark’s curly hair and lanky build similar to that of the Sesame Street character. The Sports Illustrated cover portrays Mark and Big Bird each holding a baseball, just about to throw a pitch. It appears that Big Bird is a Southpaw as he is seen holding the ball with his left wing. Retrospectively, this is a very unique photo that baseball lovers of all ages can enjoy. “The Bird” sadly passed away in 2009. I, with baseball fans alike, will fondly remember his style on and off the playing field. May he rest in peace, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych.