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Morning Prowl: Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, 1954-2009

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At The Daily Fungo, Mike McClary recalls listening to a Tigers-Angels game in 1976 with his grandfather, as Mark Fidrych pitched against Frank Tanana. It's a touching reminder of how baseball weaves itself into so many of our memories.

Lee Panas says The Bird's rookie year was "the single most thrilling individual season of my lifetime." Three years ago, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of that season, Lee kept a diary of each of Fidrych's games at Tiger Tales. It was fun reading then, and obviously takes on a new significance now.

Over at Take 75 North, Matt notes something that always amazed me about Fidrych, as well. Maybe he privately lamented what could've been had his career not been cut short by injury, but in public, Fidrych always seemed genuinely appreciative of what he experienced.

Big Al remembers getting swept up in the mania of The Bird's rookie season, and attending two of Fidrych's starts amidst what became a playoff atmosphere at Tiger Stadium.

Fidrych was #88 on The Spot Starters' list of Top 100 Tigers. Blake points out that The Bird made the Tigers relevant in 1976, despite the team having a terrible record.

Rob Neyer looks at Fidrych the pitcher, as opposed to the phenomenon. How good could he have been? And was he severely overworked that season?

Despite The Bird's antics and eccentricities, Tom Gage gives an example of how seriously Fidrych took the game when he was pitching. He didn't like it when anyone tried to harsh his mellow out there on the mound.

The Detroit News' Jerry Green remembers being in the Tigers' clubhouse in Lakeland when Fidrych called his parents with the news that he made the team.

Ernie Harwell calls Fidrych "the most charismatic player in modern Tigers history" and "a rock star."

Also in the Detroit News, Gregg Krupa writes about all the extra money he made in tips as an usher at Tiger Stadium whenever Fidrych pitched.

The New York Times' Joe Lapointe writes about covering Fidrych's 1976 season, and how captivated he was by the frenzy surrounding The Bird.

And as a son of Massachusetts, the Boston Globe remembers how much of an impact Fidrych made as a baseball player, but also as a member of the community once his baseball days were over.