Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on July 4, 1976 · Page 55
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 55

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Detroit, Michigan
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Sunday, July 4, 1976
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Page 55
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SECTION In This Section Sports on Television Page 2 Travel Pages 9-10 Radio Page 11 Sports SUNDAY, JULY 4, 1976 Bird Swoops Down on O's, 40 0 0 0 And 5 .Fans Go 1.032 Tiser I , , j I . ,. . ... . BY JIM HAM' KINS ... , - - . , . ., .. .1 -t i ; ' 'f -Hvl V. ' ' .T .fy Pre. s&port Writer f- i i . 1 r' . y i f 7Sl",T' , L fffbftei 'FirWI,! AT Pliv tens of rhoasan&s, agaiiv Saturday night. They came for only sum 0 1 0 j.ficre.ef 4 no , riurjtll is al riaj- 1 V-TlHrs. fiiPJTV - reason -Warkjidftpe. -.9 f .ntf Vfr 1 I nf Mnnlli-L tAnZlilAJ V'. By the end oT tfr fcrte frizzy-Mirteno MooHsftOT 3 S f 8 ' -pare 4D - r JsrSF, p- had the near-capacity crowd of 51,032 fans in an absolute frenzy gSfgf i jj ? J ? 3 0 -V- - . , V. He Civei OIl Snarks Aiio Wile Imagine winning on cue;.' Imagine a ball playef taking curtain calls? Imagine if you can Mark Fidrych. - It is almost impossible to believe what this youngster is doing. They come out expecting a big show from him and he delivers it. Babe Ruth called one shot. The kid is starting to do it every time he goes to the mound. It's incredible. Nobody is supposed to win on cue. Or take bows after a game. That's what's been happening around here and seldom has the old game been more iun. They filled the ball park Saturday night and The Bird didn't let them down. He went through all the moves, all the gyrations and all the antics. which have made Him one of the most talked about players in baseball since Henry Aaron was going for No. 715. Fidrych also had all the pitches as he blanked the Baltimore Orioles cn just four hits. The score was 4-0 and it was an evening that, won't soon be forgotten. ,. ; . 1 ' The players even gagged it up by putting a phone in front of Fidrych's locker, as though the President was ready to call at any moment. Or maybe the Pope. You don't suppose he was expecting a call from. . , Naw. Not yet. Soon, maybe, but not just yet. Nobody can be expected to perform when his every move is cheered mightily by the mobs. As Fidrych opened some of the letters before the game, he came across one from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington D.C. The Bird's eyes widened. Did he know a Gerald Ford? No. But he read the letter aiiyway. It was a prank since everyone knows that Presidents use the telephones and not the mails to talk to their athletes. Who can trust the mails these days. Je's on Top Step for Anthem This is what Fidrych is facing, though. The spotlight is on his every move. Do you believe, they gave him a standing ovation for nearly three minutes when his name was announced before the game? That's never happened in this old ball park. Even the enemy the Orioles were anxious to get their first look at The Bird. "I've talked to a lot of quality people and they tell me he's for real," said Reggie Jackson. "They say he keeps the ball low and he's a very enjoyable person and I'm looking forward to ' facing him." "So he's supposed to be crazy, eh?" smiled Earl Weaver, the O's manager. "All I know is that he's already writing down the attendance figures in front of his locker, so how crazy can he be?" The amazing thing about Fidrych is that he affects so many people around him. It's not just the fans who are ga-ga over him. It's his own teammates. The Bird gives off sparks and they catch fire. No sooner had Fidrych worked out of a bases-loaded jam Saturday night than Jason Thompson came up in the bottom of the inning and nearly hit one out of the ball park, the ball bouncing off the roof in rightfield. Fidrych has put a charge in everyone. The electricity crackles in the air. Let him flex his shoulder blades and they go berserk. Let him smooth out the mound and they are in utter ecstasy. , They even thrill to him racing back to the dugout as he tries to be the first one home. He made it every time Saturday night. The kid knows just how to play it, too. He was standing on the top step of the dugoJt as they played the National Anthem. He had his hat over his heart, as any red-blooded American youth would do pn the eve of the Fourth of July. ; And then, when the anthem had ended, he took off for the pitcher's mound but not before rolling the warnuip ball down the top of the dugout to some unbelievably lucky tan. The question is, how long can he keep his act going? It is almost too much to asK anyone much less a 21-year-old rookie to take hold cf an entire town the way Fidrych has and maintain his poise. lAll Eyes Are Glued on Mark i.The Tigers are enjoying his astounding success, especially when it comes to counting the dollars, but they also know what a '.terrible spot the young man is on. ;They don't want to do anything to spoil him. They want him in be himself as flaky as that might be. But at the same time, they don't want him to get carried away with all of the hoopla and forget the main reason he is here to pitch baseball. .Fidrych's sudden success has put Ralpn Houk in a tough spot. He admits he has never seen anything like this in all his days in baseball, and this is a man who knew Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Roger Maris and all of the other great Yankees. "I've just told him to be himself but I want him to concentrate" on pitching on the nights he's supposed to pitch," said Houk. In other words, no running all over the ball park making radio tapes, TV interviews and answering the questions of the writers. "Now I didn't tell him he couldn't talk to the press," said Houk, a man who is very crafty about his profession. Fidrych got the message, though and he was non-committal' before Saturday flight's. ,game giving utfinly-nods, and-grunts to anyone who came by his1 locker. This may be the only way he can survive. i , You find you can't take your eyes off him. Never before have I ever watched a pitcher warm up in the bullpen. I mean, watch his every pitch. I did Saturday night. And even from high in the press box you could see why Fidrych has pitched as well this season. Even when he is facing nobody, he keeps the ball down pitch after pitch. '"I don't know.why everyone's taken to him the way they have ... we talk about it a lot," said coach Dick Tracewski. "Maybe it's because we haven't been a bundle of joy around here in recent years ... or maybe the fans are ready for someone like him. "All I know is I saw Sandy Koufax pitch and he never got the reception this kid gets." The President. The Pope. Sandy Koufax. That's just about covers all the political and religious angles. Denny who? was introduced before the game, and theyyel!ed themselves. fcSlk iTfi!.r chirp in the 'dugout h.iarsp riiirino thp final two ihninsst ursine'on their eanHini: '.p-- H RERBBSQ ,i 0 . wu...e, a ' o---oT- o-.-e or Cu0lar (L4-V) 3 Z-3 6 4 4 21-year-old idol with a clianf. of "Go, Bird, GoC" Pawn 41-31 0 0 And The Bird was simply his usual fantastic self. In spite of all the pressure that was obviously on him as he personally packed the house for tne second time, Fidrych was sensational as he turned in his first shutout of his brief but brilliant career. And so the legend of Mark Fidrych continues to grow.. There obviously is a lot mere to this remarkable young man than just his antics on the mound and his peculiar conversations with the baseball. ! He's also one helluva pitcher. 2 0 0 4 4 0 0 3 4 Fldrvch, T-l:Si. A-51,032. Fldrvch (W.9-1) ? -Page 4D Fidrych has now won eight in a row and nine for the year, completing all but one of his 10 starts. His earned run average is a miniscule 1.85 and he is a cinch to make the All-Star team, if riot to start the game. ' WHEN SATURDAY'S game ended and Fidrych left the field, after first shaking hands with each of his teammates, the exuberant fans refused to leave their seats. Instead, they stood and chanted, "We Want The Bird, We Want The. Bird," until Fidrych finally emerged from the dugout after more than three minutes to take a curtain call. If he hadn't, they might have stayed there all night.. . "In all my years in baseball, I've never seen anything like this," admitted Tiger manager Ralph Houk. "This stirs me up. It's gotta stir up all the players. That's how much Mark Fidrych has turned on this town. "I wanted him to win so darn bad. The kid's so energetic, so enthused. Everything goes together. "Mickey Mantle used to drc.w crowds, but I've never seen a rookie do anything like this," the Tiger manager added. "T don't think I've ever enjoyed anything like this in my life." FIDRYCH HAS NOW drawn a total of 98,887 cash customers the last two times he has pitched. And it can safely be said that at least half that number paid their way into the park solely to see him. And he'll get a chance to improve on that total when he faces Kansas City here Friday night. Fidrych was in trouble only once Saturday night and he Please turn to Page 4D, Column 7 if .... " , - ' ' "' ' - "VI - Free Press Photo by CRAIG PORTER UPI Photo Mark (The Bird) Fidrych fires plateward against Baltimore, then tells the ball exactly where to go . on the next pilch Bird Dazzled By Success BY CHARLIE VINCENT, n Free Press Sports Writer Mark Fidrych bounced around the Tiger dressing room like a man trying to find his way out of a maze. He held a Stroh's in one hand, but broke through a ring of reporters to go grab a Lite. He shook hands with every teammate within sight. He took a giant poster with a caricature of himself from John Hitler's locker and moved it against the wall. He stalked around in circles, going nowhere in particular, running his fingers through ids sweat-soaked locks. Plainly, Mark Fidrych cannot believe what is happening to '''I don't know what to say ... I just don't know what to . . say," he sajd over ,and over. x ' ,t " y ' "Why don't you go and talk to the other guys. I shouldn't even talk to you," he told the reporters. "I shouldn't say anything, they're the ones who are doing it." THE BIRD, THE HOTTEST property in the American League at the moment, had just won his ninth game of the season and he got his first major league shutout in the process blanking Baltimore, 4-0, before 51,032. "Hell, yes, the shutout means a lot to me," he said. "It feels good ... it feels real good, but I just hope it doesn't crack. "I think about it when I go out there. I know it might go like this," he said, making a diving gesture with his right hand. "I just hope when it happens, it goes like this," he said, making Please turn to Page 4D, Column 4 $4- I "'J x X - ' PI Free Press Photo by CRAIG PORTER Fidrych, usually, incessantly vocal, sits quietly in the dugout. Borg Is King At Wimbledon From AP and UPI WIMBLEDON, England Bjom Borg, deciding "attack was the best form of defense," against the artistry of Hie Nastase cut the tempermental Romanian down in straight sets Saturday to become the youngest Wimbledon champion in 45 years, despite playing with three cortisone injections to ease a painfully strained stomach muscle. He is the first Scandinavian ever to win Wimbledon. The athletic Swede raced about the Wimbledon center court and hit top-spin forehands like a demon to crush Nastase 6-4 6-2 9-7 in the men's singles final. He went through the whole tournament without dropping a set. AT 20 YEARS and one month, Borg is the fourth youngest men's champion since Wimbledon started 99 years ago. Three 19-year-olds have won the title Wilfred Baddeley of Britain in 189J, Rene Lacoste of France in 1925 and Sidney Wood of the United States in 1931. While' Borg struck a blow for youth, Billie Jean King at 32 failed in a bid to make history. She needed to win the women's doubles with Betty Stove of The Netherlands to break the all-time record of 19 Wimbledon titles she shares with Elizabeth Ryan. Chris Evert, this year's women's singles champion, and the exiled Czech, Martina Navratilova, beat the King-Stove team 6-1 3-6 7-5 in the final. King has won six singles and 13 doubles titles since 1961. Please turn to Page 2D, Column 3

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