Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on June 29, 1976 · Page 32
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 32

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Detroit, Michigan
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Tuesday, June 29, 1976
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Page 32
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DETROIT FREE PRESS Tuesday, June 29. '76 1-D Go, Bird, Go! Fidrych Kills NY 1 47.855 Hail 8th Win 5 BY JIM HAWKINS Free Press Sports Writer His name is Mark Fidrych, and there's nobody in baseball quite like him. He is fresh. He is funny. He is fantastic. He nearly filled the park Monday night, then mowed down the mighty New York Yankees, runaway leaders in the. American League East, 5-1, for his eighth, win of what has so tar been an absolutely incredible year for the flaky, frizzy-haired rookie. , And the near-capacity crowd of 47,855 positively went wild. Not since the days of Denny McLain has any baseball player so captivated this city. IT SEEMS LIKE everybody is talking about The Bird. ; And no wonder. Fidrych limited the front-running Yankees -to seven hits Monday evening only one of "which, a recond-inning homer by Elrod Hen-Ticks, actually did any damage. I Meanwhile, Rusty Staub hit a two-run homer in the botton of the first his first since May 13 to give Fidrych all the runs he . actually needed. Aurelio Rodriguez also ho- The Bird Makes It Look Like Old Days - Was it The Bird? Was it Billy? Or was it just baseball? - It was probably a little of each mostly The Bird if you're looking for an opinion but whatever it was, whatever drew 47,885 people out to the ball park Monday night, it felt good. It felt like the old days. . In the old days there was always electricity in the air when the Yankees came to town. That's when they had Maris and Mantle hitting back to back, Elston Howard behind the plate and Yogi Berra in right or left, depending on Casey Stengel's mood. Now there was Howard pitching batting practice and Yogi standing off to the side of the batting cage talking to anyone who'd listen. The Yankees? Chris Chambliss (late of the Cleveland Indians) was batting cleanup, Oscar Gamble was the rightfielder and, for heavens sake, Elrod Hendricks was the catcher. ; And yet, there they werenine games in front and the place was filling up just like the old days. . 1 Not even Jim Campbell could keep the grin off his face. He knew when he had one in the bag. The weatherman was talking about thunderstorms along about nine o'clock dut it would take a typhoon before Campbell would lose this gate. Did you ever see baseball at three o'clock in the morning?" he said while having his dinner. "We will play, I guarantee you that. : "If you've never seen a captive audience you will see one this evening. We will have men with machine guns at all of the exit gates to keep everyone inside." Fidrych Cool Before Game It had been a long time since there was this much exciter ment around the old ball park. You could feel it growing all through the day. Buzz, buzz, buzz- the phones at the stadium were busy and there was a steady jam around the ticket window on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. ; It was Family Night and that accounted for part of the crowd, as did he lure of the Yankees. , - But it was The Bird who brought theni out and if you doubted it, then you should have been in the place at about 8:20 when he went down to the bullpen to warmup. If you believe it and not even Dennis Dale McLain ever was accorded such f oyal treatment) they stood up and cheered. - They kept standing, waiting for his first warmup toss and when he lobbed the first one to Bill Freehan, they cheered tven louder. You should have heard them when he started smoothing out the dirt on the pitcher's mound in the top of the second inning. You'd have thought he was getting ready to pitch the pennant clincher. ' The place was an absolute bedlam when he closed out the Yankees in the ninth inning. . Who is this kid anyway? , Mark Fidrych sat in front of his locker two hours before the game and it was interesting to watch the world swirl about him. Sonny Eliot came in for a gag shot and he asked The Bird to poke him in the chest and Sonny would poke him back, like they were really enemies. Naw, said The Bird, he didn't want to do anything like that -r- and then he proceeded to grab Sonny by the collar and all but choke him until he turned purple. ; Vince Desmond, the traveling sec, came by and asked The Bird when his birthday was, and almost without looking up, he told him it was August 14. Dan Ewald, a local baseball writer, came by and asked for The Bird's autograph not once but twice. The Bird obliged.. . - " If anything was bothering him like facing the Yankees for -the first time in his life he wasn't! showing it ".Too Young for '68 Tigers . Did he ever hear of the mighty Mantle. Z "Sure," he said. "He was a ball player but now he's retired." Maris, the man of 61 homers? "Never heard of him," said The Bird. ' "How about the 1968 Tigers he surely knew their exploits even if he was only 12 at the time "I was only 11," he said, "but I never heard of them either. I was too busy working trying to make a living. Carry groceries, carry golf clubs anything to make a buck. "I had to go out once in a while, you know." Lest anyone think he was being a smart aleck, Fidrych said he did remember the miracle Boston Red Sox of 1967. ,". "Yeah, I remember them," he said. "They let us out of school so we could watch the games on TV."... If he was cool before the game, he was all ice against the .Yankees. Nothing bothered him. He hept looking in for the sign, staring at the catcher, talking to himself, talking to the ball, smoothing the dirt, and throwing one strike after another. I It turned out to be quite an evening as the young man won fils eighth game against just one setback and why shouldn't he start against the National League on July 13th? Campbell was saying, no, he wouldn't be tearing up Fi-, drych's contract but that if he was still doing well at the end of the season, he might "give him something to make him happy." How about starting with radio station WKO in Kalamazoo? niered, for the second time in four days in the seventh, and the Tigers added two more runs in the eighth to Insure the 21-year-old righthander's eighth complete game in nine starts. It's an incredible record when you stop and think about it And the frenzied fans let Fidrych know how they felt about it. , He was given a loud ovation when he sprinted to the mound at the beginning of the game. And when it was over, a mere one hour and 51 minutes later, and Fidrych emerged from the dugout to appear on the nationa 1TV post-game show they gave him a standing ovation. Fidrych waved his cap. . . He hugged his head. . .He pranced around, enjoying every bit of it. . . And he shook hands with everyone in sight AND THE FANS were only too happy to pay tribute to their newest folk hero, the kid who talks to the ball. As the sign hung over the railing in leftfield said, "We Love You, Mark." , The Tigers remarkable rookie still hasn't encountered anyoneh e couldn't beat and the Yanks were no exception. Cleveland, Milwaukee, Texas, Calidfornia, Kansas City, Minnesota, Boston, and now New York Fidrych has defeated them all. After Monday night's show, which was seen from coast to coast on ABC-TV, Fidrych is a MM o vx iru Sx &Lsn XS " Free Press Photos by JOHN COLLIER . Please turn to Page 5D, Col. 6 Mark Fidrych in motion Monday night: He talks to the ball, makes his delivery, then watches the results Jerry Feeds Tidbits to TV Announcers BY JIM BENAGH Fret Press Sports Writer Jerry Klein never saw Ron LeFlore play before Monday night, but he probably knows as much about his playing record as anyone in Detroit. And he undoubtedly knows more about Archie Griffin's football achievements than the Heisman Trophy winner does. That's Klein's job as statistician for ABC-TV sports. A New Englander who was schooled at the University of Kansas and now lives in "New York City, he travels with the ABC announcing teams for Monday night baseball and football and Saturday college football. Klein is one of the 50 anonymous members of the ABC contingent in Detroit for the Tigers-Yankees game Monday night. Though he sits near such well-known faces as Bob Prince in baseball and Frank Gifford and Keith Jackson in football, Klein stajis in the background by front-office edict. "I've been told that my presence should not be seen," he said emphatically. But he makes his presence known every time an announcer gives you a tidbit you probably didn't know. Klein doesn't like the term "statistician" to describe his job, even though that is what ABC calls him. He likes to explain that his job is not just to gather statistics when he goes into a town two or three days in advance, but to put those numbers in perspective. "I prefer the word researcher, because I think of a statistican as just playing with numbers," he says. For example, his studies on the records of the Yankees and the Tigers that he prepared for Prince point out that both teams are improved five games from their standings a year ago. And that two of the brighter rookies in the game, Jason Thompson of the Tigers and Willie Randolph of the Yanks, both will be 22 years old on July 6. Furthermore, Ron LeFlore's 30-game hitting streak was stopped by the Yanks and Chirs Chambliss' 19-game streak was stopped by the Tigers. , Please turn to Page 5D, Column 3 I i Jerry Klein: "I've been told that my presence should not be seen." Bird: 'The People Really Get Me Up' BY CHARLIE VINCENT Free Press Sports Writer The Bird is definitely the word at Tiger Stadium. Eccentric Mark Fidrych marched into the dressing room Monday night after setting down the American League East leading New York Yankees, 5-1, before a national television audience, quickly picked up a pencil and wrote "48,000" on a sheet of paper hanging inside his locker. It was only a slight exaggeration of the Monday night crowd 47,855 who jammed into Tiger Stadium to see the rookie pitching sensation by far the largest crowd the 21-year-old righthander has ever performed before. "They get your adrenelin flowing even more," he said, pushing his sweat-soaked curls away from his face. "The people really get me up." He's not a young man who appears to need much assistance in that department. A perputual motion machine on the mound, Fidrych once again Monday night knelt to rearrange the dirt around the mound prior to every inning, swung his arms wildly, talked to himself and the baseball and when it all over, kept the crowd in their seats for an extra 15 minutes by making a post-game reappearance in front of the Tiger dugout, waving his cap to the crowd, shaking hands with ushers and groundskeepers, then submit- ting to a TV interview, dressed only in his pants and warmup jacket. FIDRYCH, NOW 8-1, was even more animated than usual in the ninth inning. "I just kept telling myself: 'Just three more outs and the game is over . . . come on, just three more outs. "'Let it flow,' I kept saying over and over, 'Just let it flow ... I g 9 1 1 a throw hard ... I gotta throw hard.' "I've got to do that, that's just my way to keep my mind on the game. It I don't, I relax and my body seems to slow down. I've got to concentrate on every pitch." The victory dropped Fl- Please turn to Page 2D, Col. 7 3 State Matmen Take a Firm Grip On Olympic Spots Michigan placed three wrestlers on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team for the Montreal Games, including both the best and biggest competitors. . The U.S.'s best is Stan Dziedzic, a former national collegiate champion at Slippery Rock State and the 1972 gold winner at 163 pounds. Dziedzic, now an assistant coach at Michigan State, is the man veteran Olympic wrestler Wayne Baughman considers "strategically, the soundest wrestler on the team. Then there's unlimited wrestler Jimmy Jackson of Grand Rapids'. Jackson, at 19, is the youngest member of the OLympic team. He is a 6-foot-5, 300 pound Oklahoma State sophomore and 1976 NCAA champion. "He has ability, agility and hostility," said Baughman. MICHIGAN'S OTHER Olympic-bound wrestler is John Matthews of Flint, who captured the Greco-Roman 163-pound title by besting top-seeded Dennis Graham of Portland, Ore., 7-6 and 6-1, Sunday night at the trials in Brockport, N.Y. Matthews, a graduate student at Central Michigan University, finished ninth in the Olympic qualifying tournament last month in Cleveland and was petitioned into the final wrestle-off. He made his way through five days of challenge matches to earn his berth. Michigan only had two athletes qualify for the Olympic track and field team. Doug Brown of "St. Clair Shores captured the 3,000-meter steeplechase Sunday in 8:27.39, just off his American record of 8:23.2. And a suprirse qualifier was Deby LaPlante of Belleville, who made the team by finishing second in the women's 100-meter hurdles. THREE OTHER Michigan competitors Mike Winsor, Mel Embree and Bill Lundberg failed to qualify in their events. Winsor, the 19-year-old Central Michigan freshman sensation, failed at three attempts at 7-1 and Embree, the Harvard star from Ann Arbor, went out early in the jumping. Lundberg failed to qualify in the steeplechase, which Brown won easily. mmm mimmmm SUITS IN SUMMERY WOVENCORDS VESTED dmmm- & unvested MUUbLb, 1 wuw 'f lipiiHifirf mw'i 'i !J WERE 95115 OP5'! ) unvested vested MOST HUGHES & HATCHER STORES OPEN EVENINGS. n iiti ri.." r irl irt rl rl irt n grt rl r ril r1 rl ri ir

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