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The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych
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The Bird: The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  182 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
The first biography of the eccentric pitcher, rookie All-Star starter, 70s pop icon, and first athlete on the cover of Rolling Stone

For those who remember him, Mark Fidrych is still that player who brings a smile to your face, the irresistibly likable pitcher whose sudden rise brightened the star-spangled season of 1976 and reminded us of the pure joy of the game.

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published March 19th 2013)
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Community Reviews

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Ed Wagemann
Apr 18, 2013 Ed Wagemann rated it liked it
The writing here isn't the deepest, in fact sometimes it seems like its more geared toward an audience of high school or college age kids at times - but that didn't really bother me. I'm not a baseball romantic. But I was in 1976. I ate, slept and shit baseball. And Mark Fidrych played the game as if he did too. And how could an 8 year old kid not be drawn to the Bird? His perma-grin, his love of guitar Rock music, his bushy unkempt hair, his wild antics on the mound and his joy in the game. He ...more
Dec 20, 2014 bamlinden rated it liked it
First off...I enjoyed this book. I was just a little too young to remember 1976 and The Bird's tremendous rookie season. but his name was one I'd always recognize..partially because of his eccentric nature.

After reading this book, I feel like I have a much stronger picture of who Mark Fidrych was as a pitcher and as a person. And I really like the person he was.

I think author Doug Wilson did a very nice job in compiling his resources, interviews and archive material to present an accurate port
Apr 04, 2013 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
I was only seven years old when Mark Fidrych broke into the major leagues, setting baseball on its collective ear with his zany antics and darting fastball. I hadn’t yet been caught up by the baseball bug, and even living in western Michigan, I wasn’t in the loop on the Bird. In fact, I have a distinct memory of talking baseball cards with a couple of kids on the school bus in second or third grade. One of them asked if I had the Bird. I thought he meant Doug Bird. He thought I was an idiot.

By t
May 27, 2013 D rated it really liked it
I remember playing catch with my Dad in the back yard in the Spring of 1976, and as we were throwing he said "You gotta watch the game tonight, the Tigers got a guy pitching called The Bird" That was the famous game against the Yankees.

I read this book to relive some old memories about Mark Fidrych, and a time when a young curly haired pitcher could brighten everyone with his exuberance and joy. But make no mistake Fidrych was also a great pitcher with remarkable control in his day.

What I was
Joseph Adelizzi, Jr.
May 05, 2013 Joseph Adelizzi, Jr. rated it really liked it
So many things stand out from reading this book: reliving the days when knowing every player's stats and foibles was all that mattered; reading about the 1976 All Star Game, which I attended; seeing an unknown soft-side of the gruff Jim Leyland; finding out Sparky Anderson was kind of a jerk; hearing how Rusty Staub and other veterans took Fidrych under their wings; reading how other players, non-teammates, reacted to Fidrych; being amazed at how many innings pitchers pitched "back then" compare ...more
Jan 12, 2014 Yofish rated it liked it
Recommended to Yofish by: Yardley, the Post's reviewer
Shelves: read-sports
More like a 3.5 really

A somewhat fawning biography of Mark Fidrych. He was certainly an interesting character, and I learned a lot. (For example, it was so soon after free agency that most players did not use agents. Really?)

The author did his research, and he's something of a sabermatrician (though he certainly cherry-picks his data---maybe he's worried that the lay person wouldn't understand? Maybe he just wants to say things that only make Fid look good?). But he's an opthamologist, not a wr
Bill Hammer
Jan 07, 2014 Bill Hammer rated it really liked it
While this book didn't go into detail like some sports biographies, I still enjoyed reading it. I saw Mark pitch when I was five years old. I remember buying the newspapers that were giving away iron-on decals and making our t-shirts for the game. I still have fond memories of watching him pitch. He was the type of player who showed truly how much fun baseball should be. I was glad to see someone write about such a unique individual.
Brad C
Feb 09, 2016 Brad C rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Good book for a baseball junkie like myself. I first started following baseball in 1976, which was the year of The Bird. The All-Star game he started that year was the first one I ever watched, so there is nostalgia for me in that era of baseball from my childhood.

Not the greatest writing I've ever seen, but a good read for baseball fans that remember Fidrych and Bird-mania. Provides a lot of detail into the person he was as well as his star-crossed baseball career.
Mike Burrill
Jun 20, 2013 Mike Burrill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
As a baseball fan, and Mark Fidrych fan, I really liked this book. I think it's fitting because Mark didn't seem to have the personality to write his own autobigraphy. It just seemed right to have everyone who really knew him tell their tales. It does take you back to a time when baseball and sports really meant something. I hope all who read it enjoy it as much as I did.
May 12, 2013 Patricia rated it really liked it
The amazing story of Mark Fidrych's rookie year in the majors. I learned a lot of about the state of professional baseball in the 1970s. Fidrych was a unique personality whose approachability and kindness never changed even as he dealt with years of comeback attempts and went back to the real world to make a living in his hometown in Massachusetts.
Colleen Reilly
Apr 14, 2013 Colleen Reilly rated it it was amazing
Written by a working Indiana ophthalmologist, who is a self-described rabid baseball junky, this retrospective on Mark Fidrych was not overly cloying or worshipful. I soaked this book up, and when finished, I felt like the author had really given me a feel for what baseball was like in 1976...The Year of the Bird.
Larry Johnson
Feb 07, 2014 Larry Johnson rated it it was ok
i wanted to like this more than I did. The topic was interesting but the writing was repetitive and just so-so. I put it down and picked it up over the course of a few months without having to reread more than half a page each time. Overall I'd give it 2.5 stars.
Riley Cooper
Sep 13, 2013 Riley Cooper rated it it was amazing
This book is as enthusiastic and as gentle as its subject. I thoroughly enjoyed the author's heartfelt descriptions of the high points of Te Bird's life and career. C'mon, Billy Crystal - make an excellent movie out of this, one that can stand up with "61"!
Steve Miller
Apr 03, 2013 Steve Miller rated it really liked it
An innocent tale of an innocent time. Nice work.
Nestor Rychtyckyj
Apr 18, 2014 Nestor Rychtyckyj rated it really liked it
On May 10, 1976 my high school baseball team got a special treat; a trip to Tiger Stadium to see an exhibition game between the Tigers and the Cincinnati Reds. The Tigers pitcher was an unknown rookie who had already drawn attention for his unorthodox behaviour. It was of course Mark Fidrych and none of us could dream that he would become a houseold name within a few months.

This book relives the astonishing year of 1976 where the Bird became the most popular athlete in the US and where stadiums
Sean Kottke
Jun 09, 2013 Sean Kottke rated it really liked it
Written by a baseball fan, for baseball fans, about the one player who did more to lay the foundation for my baseball fandom than any other member of my beloved Tigers, this breezy bio is almost an oral history of Fidrych's life and legacy. It's most effective invoking the sights, sounds and zeitgeist of baseball in the mid- to late-'70s, through the words of scores of baseball luminaries and ordinary folks alike who were there. It's less effective when attempting to interpret the enduring popul ...more
Aug 19, 2014 Kathleen rated it really liked it
This biography of Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych is entertainingly written and interesting. The author, Doug Wilson, is an ophthalmologist and fan, not a writer, but he does a better job than many pros. The book is organized, maybe a little too much so. The little things that jumped out at me as a copy editor (and there weren't that many of them) are things that St. Martin Press should've caught.

I don't remember Fidrych's magical 1976 season, as I hadn't yet gotten heavily into baseball; I
Aug 24, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
I can remember, as a 7 year old baseball fan in 1976, hearing about The Bird from my grandfather and uncle in Monroe, Michigan. They were die-hard Tigers fans, and I can remember my grandfather speaking to me about Mark Fidrych primarily because it spurred all his great memories of Dizzy Dean. The Bird was one of those looming figures of legend in the 70s of my childhood, like Evel Kneivel and D.B. Cooper and Sasquatch.

Doug Wilson has picked a winner of a topic with this biography, and his book
Dale Stonehouse
Jan 03, 2014 Dale Stonehouse rated it really liked it
It would be hard to screw up a book about Mark Fidrych, unless you were looking for dirt and gossip, of which there would be little to find anyway. The Bird burned his arm out quickly by throwing every pitch as hard as he could; for a short time he was a Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher. The good-guy angle is a bit overplayed, but perhaps that is because it was/is so unusual in a person with fame and fortune at such a young age. The comparison today is to actress Jennifer Lawrence, who is probably m ...more
Mar 15, 2014 Phil rated it really liked it
A time it was and what a time it was, it was. A magnificent year with the most charismatic and talented pitcher in the game. Career gone too soon. Fidriych gone to soon. If there is a non-Yankee baseball story I would pass along to my children, The Bird is it.
Apr 05, 2015 Aaron rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
I was born in 1972 so I was a little too young to understand the Bird craze. My introduction to Mark Fidrych must have come sometime around 9 or 10 when (as a card collector) I happened upon one of his cards only to learn he had been a bright, shooting star. This book does a nice job of taking you back to a time that was uniquely enabled to allow for the Bird phenomenon. The quotes by fellow teammates, coaches and opposing players reveal the most about this rare personality. While it was his rep ...more
Robert Weinstein
Jan 24, 2015 Robert Weinstein rated it really liked it
My father gave this to me because he, my brother and I saw The Bird pitch in 1976. It's a great read that taught me a lot about the person, the player and his career. It's a fine, sentimental book.
Ed Harrison
The Bird

A great look at the life of Northborough, Mass.' Own Mark Fidrych. A character, yes, but above all, just a decent guy.
David Zachariason
Feb 03, 2015 David Zachariason rated it it was amazing
The man behind the hype was even cooler than I thought. If you are into baseball read this book.
Mike OHagerty
Sep 05, 2013 Mike OHagerty rated it liked it
Good story, not the best writing, as Doug Wilson often slips into redundant, romanticism about his personal feelings of The Bird's place in baseball lore. However, Wilson did remind me of what baseball used to be like BEFORE the Steroid & Free Agent era started. Fidrych was one man responsible for rekindling every persons love of the game AND he brought hope to a city that had already started to crumble.
Oct 11, 2013 Cindy rated it it was amazing
A must read if you we're a fan of The Bird, the Detroit Tigers or if you just love baseball. The author has written a captivating book that makes me wish I could go back and live through the magical year of baseball once again.

If the author wants to write a follow-up book I would love to hear stories of people who were inspired by Mr. Fidrych's love of baseball.
Allison b
Aug 11, 2013 Allison b rated it liked it
Wonderful story of a bygone era of baseball. I would have loved to read this book condensed into a cover story. As a full length book it got pretty repetitive, and the writing was distractingly simple. However for a quick summer beach read it delivered what it promised: the true story of a baseball folk tale
Dec 10, 2014 Maryjulia rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Nostalgic look at the 1976 baseball phenom whom everyone loved : Mark "The Bird" Fidrych. It was refreshing to relive those days and get the backstory on his life and rise to fame. Just as moving was how he remained true to himself long after his arm gave out. A must read for baseball fans.
Jim Blessing
Jun 22, 2013 Jim Blessing rated it liked it
Shelves: baseball
This was an excellent book on the most exciting one year baseball players in my lifetime - Mark Fidrych. Although I did not see a game in Tiger Stadium when he was on the team, I did see Evansville Triplett games in 1980 and 1981 when Fidrych was a pitcher. An outstanding player and person!
Nick Kanine
Nov 18, 2014 Nick Kanine rated it it was ok
Did not agree with the writing style sometimes.
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I have loved baseball since I was old enough to throw a rubber ball against the side of the house and pretend I was in the big leagues. I particularly have an interest in writing about baseball in the 1960s ande 1970s. I like to write about the good guys of the game--I'm tired of hearing about the scandals.
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“When asked the inevitable question of “Does the ball ever talk back?” Mark answered, “The only time that happens is when it’s going over the fence, it yells back to me that I shouldn’t have thrown that pitch.” 0 likes
“The Bird swooped down out of nowhere in 1976, stole the game of baseball away from the mercenaries, who considered it merely business, and gave it back to the fans.” 0 likes
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