A double loss

Posted: April 14, 2009 in Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah, Youth sports

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.

  1. Eric says:

    I was giving thought to the celebrities that pass away and cause the sense of loss that is difficult to describe. But think about our recent (in history terms) past when we didn’t have the speed and immediacy of today’s media.

    It was weeks and months before some found out that Lincoln had been assassinated. Finding warriors still fighting WW2 was all the rage during the 50’s and 60’s because the news just hadn’t reached them.

    Many of our memories are made up of people who became larger than life because of their celebrity and how the media portrayed them. Our memories are of the faces on magazines, the television screen, or the big theater screen. And all of this media technology is less than 200 years old. Before that, the only concerns and grief were over the passing of close family and near friends.

    I think that’s why it is sometimes hard to explain the sense of loss of a celebrity, yet have difficulty explaining or expressing it…it’s a rather recent emotional experience for human beings, and we really aren’t sure how we should feel about losing a celebrity that we never really knew.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s