Mark Fidrych Remembered (8/14/54-4/13/09)
But Northborough was home, will always be home. Down in the sheep pen, the big ewe is moving restlessly around in the hay, her eyes slightly startled when Mark enters. Ten Corriedales stomp around him as he checks the confined mother-to-be. “That’s one of the things that Father Roberts taught me,” he says. “Keep her confined and she won’t walk away from her baby.” Father Roberts is a priest from the local abbey and a good friend of Mark’s. As in baseball, Mark gives credit to those who have shown him the way. He knew nothing of farming when he started out in the 1980s. He started big, with cows and sheep and pigs. When he was growing up. Mark used to like to watch Bonanza on television. “That was my dream, you know, to be like the Ponderosa. But then when I lost the arm and this and that, and the money flow wasn’t coming in, then it became all about money.”
He cut and sold firewood for a while, but he found that the best money he couId make was driving a truck. So he bought himself a ten-wheeler and taught himself to drive it. With his name on the door and his daughter Jessica’s name painted in scroll on the grill, Mark’s truck is a familiar sight on the roads around Worcester, hauling asphalt for a local paving firm throughout the spring, summer, and fall. With the trucking, he’s not able to keep so many animals. ”I’m up at five and I’m not home again until five. So it’s a long day.”
But not a hard day, not a day he dislikes. And even now, “People see me in my truck and they want to know, ‘How’s your life? Is it OK?’ And that’s a nice feeling.”
He plans to clear another section of the woods for more pasture, and he’d like to build a new bam. “But Father Roberts tells me this one’s OK, the sheep have shelter, it’s fine. So I put plastic up to cut the wind. Yeah, it’s fine. I’m happy.”
A long-legged, yellow-eyed goat nudges against him, and with his big pitcher’s hands. Mark Fidrych massages the goat’s shoulders. Baseball is not a big part of his life now: He doesn’t coach it or play it or even watch it very much or follow it in the news. “I never was a rabid fan, even when I was a kid. I just liked to play it,” he says.
His career was over so quickly, he could feel cheated. But he knows it is a world where anything can happen. “This is my paradise here. Life is always changing. I’m fortunate to have what I have. How could I feel cheated when, if it wasn’t for baseball, I wouldn’t be standing here? Baseball gave me a big start in life. Baseball is everything to me. It amazes me that fans are still there; they write and tell me the things that they remember.”