Mark 'The Bird' Fidrych Dead at 54

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2009 7:05 PM CDT
Former AL Rookie of the Year Mark Fidrych died today at his home in Northborough, Mass.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Former major league pitcher Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, who charmed America with his antics on the mound in the mid-1970s, died today at his home in Northborough, Mass., the Boston Globe reports. He was 54. Fidrych was found dead under a 10-wheel truck when a friend dropped by his farm this afternoon. ‘‘It was obvious there was nothing I could do at that time," his friend said.

Fidrych vaulted into American sports lore in 1976 by pitching a victory for the Detroit Tigers on national television as he talked to the ball and engaged the crowd. Fans and media embraced the phenom, who won the AL Rookie of the Year Award, but left baseball with injuries a year later. After an attempted comeback in 1983, he returned to his hometown of Northborough and worked in construction and trucking.