Friday, April 17, 2009

RIP Mark Fidrych

Recently I had breakfast at Chet’s diner in Northborough Ma and AGAIN I forgot my camera, so no photo with Mark Fidrych. <sigh> Its a great diner, right out of the 1950’s. Walking into Chet’s is like walking into your Mom’s house. Its comfortable, loving, happy, and warm. Nancy, the matriarch, is always there either making corned beef hash, the best on the planet, or sitting at the counter and chatting while her daughter Ann cooks. There are a few framed photos on the walls of Chet and Nancy in the ‘70s, one of them includes their kids. One wall has the issue of “Rolling Stone” magazine from the 70s with Mark Fidrych on the cover. (First Athlete ever on the cover of Rolling Stone)

Nancy’s daughter Ann (Mark Fidrych’s wife) is working the counter, her granddaughter, Ann and Mark’s daughter, Jessica (Samantha’s age) is waiting tables. Everyone is happy to see me and they all yell “HI!!!”. They don’t bother taking my order, its always Nancy’s homemade corned beef hash with two eggs over easy and wheat toast with a glass of cranberry juice. If I’m lucky Mark Fidrych will serve my breakfast. Yup, its true. I have had my breakfast served to me by none other than Mark Fidrych. Its a joy that I will miss. He was always happy and made everyone smile. My favorite story is the time that Mark served breakfast to an 8 year old boy and his father. It was spring and the kid asked Mark if he was going to Florida to try out for the Red Sox this year.

“Well” Mark said, “I ‘m not sure, do you think I should?”

“Oh, yes!”, replied the kid “The Sox could really use your pitching!”

So Mark flashed the kid and his dad a big smile and said “Well then, I just may head down to spring training.”

The kid smiled so big that I thought that his face would split open. “DAD! Mark is going to tryout for the Sox!”

I’ll still go to Chet’s for the best corned beef hash on the planet. For the 30 minutes that I am there, they will still make me feel like a part of the family. I’ll still flirt with Ann, give her a big smile and a wink, I’ll still over tip Jessica (and hope that she spends it on college.) When I leave, I’ll still yell “Have a nice day Nancy!” on my way out. But I’ll never get a big wave and smile from Mark again. Never here Jessica yell at him that he’s “too SSLLOW, customers are waiting!” Chets will probably be a little bit less warm for awhile, a little bit quieter, but that will just make it even more homey. And in the end, Ann will still roll her eyes at Jessica when she gets too loud, and Nancy and the girls will keep making corned beef hash and serving it, but now when I look at the picture of Mark Fidrych on the cover of “Rolling Stone” hanging on the wall, I wont feel quite the same. I’ll still remember the big goofy bird that talked to the ball and groomed the pitchers mound, I’ll still remember reading the Sports Illustrated in 1977 that introduced me to him. But it just wont be the same.

This site has a really nice bio on Mark.

Originally posted 4/13/09, but had to repost.