Baseball Reading for a Rainy Spring Training Day

by Rachel Baker on March 12, 2010

On April 1, 1985, George Plimpton, a journalist for Sports Illustrated, published an article “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch.”  This article was about the unknown pitcher who was part yogi, part recluse, and threw a 165 mph fastball which knocked the catchers back, and flew by a batter before they could even see it.

And the NY Mets were keeping him hidden in St. Petersburg, Florida behind a large canvas enclosure.  He had a special catcher, and at the time the article was written, only three batters had ever seen him.

The phenomenon the three young batters faced, and about whom only Reynolds, Stottlemyre and a few members of the Mets’ front office know, is a 28-year-old, somewhat eccentric mystic named Hayden (Sidd) Finch. He may well change the course of baseball history.

In the end, “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch” turned out to be a national April Fool’s joke.

But why am I bringing this up on Old Musty Books?  Well, because Old Musty Books is based in Florida, 20 minutes from the Spring Training Camp in Port St. Lucie; and its raining today – and the game in Fort Myers was canceled due to rain across the state (I think I just heard a 30 second roll of thunder; either that or there’s a tank army rolling down my street).

Most important of reasons, though, is this was a farce  – an April Fools Joke – a short story if you will.  George Plimpton wrote this in journalistic form, but the story has every thing one might enjoy in a short story – amazement, hilarity, really good writing with excellent descriptions, and great characterization development.

A little background history: The 1984 New York Mets played 162 games, finished in second position, winning 90 games and losing 72 games. They finished the year with a .556 winning percentage. They were just beginning to come out of a decade of suckitude.  And then…possibly the greatest pitcher ever…EVER…was found – albeit in a journalist’s mind (and the Mets were going along with it).

Mets fans all over the country had to have been THRILLED!  (I was 10 at the time and not a baseball fan – I grew up with the Florida college football rivalries on t.v., but not too much in the way of other sports.)

Reading this now, its a hilarious story. Reading it then in the Sports Illustrated Magazine must have warmed the hearts of NY Mets fans all over the country (remember the internet wasn’t massively used back then). Can you imagine the punking that sports fans got that year? Except for the fear wrought, this could be the equivalent to the punking of reading War of the Worlds on the radio on Halloween night in 1938.

Without further ado, I present to you a wonderfully hopeful short story about the greatest pitcher that never was:

The Curious Case of Sidd Finch by George Plimpton

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