I fell asleep early last night.
When I awoke at 1am, I watched 24 and then switched to SportsCenter.
Mark “the Bird” Fidrych had died. He was found under his dump truck on his farm outside of Boston earlier on Monday.
My father coached my younger brother’s Little League team in 1976. It was the same year that Fidrych became a pop icon as a kid who won 19 games for the Detroit Tigers and the first player to win The Rookie of the Year Award and named the starting pitcher of the All-Star Game.
I had a front row seat in the dugout that season at my brother’s games. I was 4 years his senior and getting my first shot as a teacher.
I proceeded to encourage my brother to act like the Bird whenever he took the pitcher’s mound.
He was a little reluctant but I was able to convince him into putting on his own little “Bird” show one warm early evening in Forestville. I made him talk to the baseball between pitches. I yelled out for him to kneel on the mound and use his hands to fill in the holes with the pebbly dirt.
I don’t think my brother was completely comfortable raking the mound with his fingertips at the beginning of the inning and talking to the baseball before sending it toward the batter. But, holy mackerel, for a few short innings that spring, my little brother was my little bird.
To many baseball fans, Harry Kalas was the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies. I remember him as the soundtrack to my football memories.
Mr. Kalas was also a narrator for NFL Films. As a young man in my early twenties, I’d stay up all hours of the night recording anything and everything that NFL Films had to offer.
I have hundreds of hours on VHS tape of NFL history lessons with Mr. Kalas as my instructor and host.
As adults, we tend to lose more and more of our childhood memories as each day turns into the next. Losing two contibutors on the same day is way too much to replay at once.