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An Old April Fools' Hoax (revisited)

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  • An Old April Fools' Hoax (revisited)

    Hey, I'd forgotten to post it last year. Still worthy of discussion, right?


    Peter Thompson for The New
    York Times
    Sidd Finch was played by Joe
    Berton, a mild-mannered
    junior high school art teacher
    who lives in Illinois.


    An Old Baseball April Fools' Hoax
    t still happens on the Wrigley Field concession lines. It happens as he walks down Michigan Avenue. It even happened, in all places, while sipping a lager in an Oxford pub.

    "Sidd Finch! You're Sidd Finch! Hey Sidd, can I get your autograph?"

    After 20 years, for Joe Berton, the line remains a little blurred. Ninety-nine percent of his waking moments are spent as Joe Berton, mild-mannered junior high school art teacher in Oak Park, Ill. But that other 1 percent, he is still Sidd Finch, baseball's greatest pitching prospect.

    It was 20 years ago this week that Sports Illustrated ran one of its most celebrated articles, "The Curious Case of Sidd Finch" - in which George Plimpton crafted a 14-page exposé on a bizarre, out-of-nowhere Mets phenom who fired baseballs at a stupefying 168 miles an hour. "Crafted," of course, is what Plimpton truly did - the story was pure fiction. It instantly became its generation's "War of the Worlds," leaving thousands of frenzied fans either delighted at the April Fools' prank or furious at being duped.

    The story was fiction for all but one person - Joe Berton, a gangly, 6-foot-4 Chicagoan who modeled for all the pictures, and to this day is recognized by dreamy fans as the actual Sidd Finch.
    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting. 2007-11 CBA
    Rest very peacefully, John “Buck” O'Neil (1911-2006) & Philip Francis “Scooter” Rizzuto (1917-2007)
    THE BROOKLYN DODGERS - 1890 thru 1957
    Montreal Expos 1969 - 2004

  • #2
    Heh heh, just shows you the cultural impact of Sports Illustrated, or the hope of some fans, I can't tell.
    46 wins to match last year's total

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by SamtheBravesFan
      Heh heh, just shows you the cultural impact of Sports Illustrated, or the hope of some fans, I can't tell.
      105-110mph heater, I may believe. When you get to 168, then you're talking Loch Ness, Yeti and Sasquatch territory. May as well all wish for the Cardiff Giant.
      Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting. 2007-11 CBA
      Rest very peacefully, John “Buck” O'Neil (1911-2006) & Philip Francis “Scooter” Rizzuto (1917-2007)
      THE BROOKLYN DODGERS - 1890 thru 1957
      Montreal Expos 1969 - 2004

      Comment


      • #4
        A little research on my part proved useful (gotta love those search engines):



        THE CURIOUS CASE OF SIDD FINCH

        by George Plimpton
        Sports Illustrated
        April 1, 1985
        The secret cannot be kept much longer. Questions are being asked, and sooner rather than later the New York Mets management will have to produce a statement. It may have started unraveling in St. Petersburg, Florida two weeks ago, on March 14th, to be exact, when Mel Stottelmyre, the Met pitching coach, walked over to the 40-odd Met players doing their morning calisthenics at the Payson Field Complex not far from the golf of Mexico, a solitary figure among the pulsation of jumping jacks, and motioned three Mets to step out of the exercise. The three, all good prospects, were John Christensen, a 24-year-old outfielder; Dave Cochrane, a square but muscular switch-hitting third baseman; and Lenny Dykstra, a swift centerfielder who may be the Mets’ leading man of the future.

        Ordering the three to collect their bats and batting helmets, Stottelmyer led the players to the north end of the complex where a large canvas enclosure had been constructed two weeks before. The rumor was that some irrigation machinery was being installed in an underground pit.

        Standing outside the enclosure, Stottelmyer explained what he wanted. “First of all,” the coach said, “the club’s got kind of a delicate situation here, and it would help if you keep reasonably quiet about it, O.K.?” The three nodded. Stottelmyer said, “We’ve got a young pitcher we’re looking at. We want to see what he’ll do with a batter standing in the box. We’ll do this alphabetically. John, go on in there, stand at the plate and gave the pitcher a target. That’s all you have to do.”

        “Do you want me to take a cut?” Christensen asked.”

        Stottelmyre produced a dry chuckle. “You can do anything you want.”

        Christensen pulled aside a canvas flap and found himself inside a rectangular area about 90 feet long and 30 feet wide, open to the sky, with a home plate set in the ground just in front of him, and down at the far end a pitcher’s mound, with a small group of Met front-office personnel standing behind it, facing home plate.

        Christensen recognized Nelson Doubleday, the owner of the Mets, and Frank Cashen, wearing a long-billed fishing cap. He had never seen Doubleday at the training facility before.

        Christensen bats right-handed. As he stepped around the plate he nodded to Ronn Reynolds, the stocky reserve catcher who had been with the Mets organization since 1980. Reynolds whispered up to him from his crouch, “Kid, you won’t believe what you’re about to see.”

        A second flap down by the pitcher’s end was drawn open, and a tall, gawky player walked in and stepped up onto the pitcher’s mound. He was wearing a small, black fielder’s glove on his left hand and was holding a baseball in his right. Christensen had never seen him before. He had blue eyes, Christensen remembers, and a pale, youthful face, with facial muscles that were motionless, like a mask. “You notice it,” Christensen explained later, “when a pitcher’s jaw isn’t working on a chaw or a piece of gum.” Then to Christensen’s astonishment he saw that the pitcher, pawing at the dirt of the mound to get it smoothed out properly and to his liking, was wearing a heavy hiking boot on his right foot.
        Another link to this:

        http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/siddfinch.html
        In its edition for the first week of April, 1985 Sports Illustrated published an article by George Plimpton that described an incredible rookie baseball player who was training at the Mets camp in St. Petersburg, Florida. The player was named Sidd Finch (Sidd being short for Siddhartha, the Indian mystic in Hermann Hesse's book of the same name), and he could pitch a baseball at 168 mph with pinpoint accuracy. The fastest previous recorded speed for a pitch was 103 mph.

        Finch had actually never played baseball before. He had been raised in an English orphanage before he was adopted by the archaeologist Francis Whyte-Finch who was later killed in an airplane crash in the Dhaulaglri mountain region of Nepal. Finch briefly attended Harvard before he headed to Tibet where he learned the teachings of the "great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa" and mastered "siddhi, namely the yogic mastery of mind-body." Through his Tibetan mind-body mastery, Finch had "learned the art of the pitch."

        Finch showed up at the Mets camp in Florida, and so impressed their manager that he was invited to attend training camp. When pitching he looked, in the words of the catcher, "like a pretzel gone loony." Finch frequently wore a hiking boot on his right foot while pitching, his other foot being bare. His speed and power were so great that the catcher would only hear a small sound, "a little pft, pft-boom," before the ball would land in his glove, knocking him two or three feet back. One of the players declared that it was not "humanly possible" to hit Finch's pitches.

        Unfortunately for the Mets, Finch had not yet decided whether to commit himself to a career as a baseball player, or to pursue a career as a French Horn player. He told the Mets management that he would let them know his decision on April 1.
        Last edited by Mattingly; 04-01-2006, 08:51 AM.
        Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting. 2007-11 CBA
        Rest very peacefully, John “Buck” O'Neil (1911-2006) & Philip Francis “Scooter” Rizzuto (1917-2007)
        THE BROOKLYN DODGERS - 1890 thru 1957
        Montreal Expos 1969 - 2004

        Comment


        • #5
          George Plimpton could really make a good story!
          2nd member of the Peter Moylan Fan Club

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Atlanta Braves Freak
            George Plimpton could really make a good story!
            Hey, true story tho (heard it from Orson Wells).

            The Martians are comin' to get ya (War of the Worlds, legendary 1938 radio broadcast)!
            Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting. 2007-11 CBA
            Rest very peacefully, John “Buck” O'Neil (1911-2006) & Philip Francis “Scooter” Rizzuto (1917-2007)
            THE BROOKLYN DODGERS - 1890 thru 1957
            Montreal Expos 1969 - 2004

            Comment


            • #7
              1. mel stottlemyre was credited as having shown the art of the slider to this legendary pitcher.

              2. the given name of this legend who reportedly gave up the game to play the french horn.

              3. a mets free agent scouting report once recommended that this legendary hurler debut in the bigs, without ever before playing organized ball.

              4. this legend was fond of citing buddha’s “be earnest in cessation although there is nothing to cease;
              practice the cessation although there is nothing to practice.”
              "you don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. just get people to stop reading them." -ray bradbury

              Comment


              • #8
                Fitting that it came out just six months before the death of Orson Wells.

                Good pranks are like fine wines, they simply get better and better with age. This is about as good of a prank you will ever see.
                Best posts ever:
                Originally posted by nymdan
                Too... much... math... head... hurts...
                Originally posted by RuthMayBond
                I understand, I lost all my marbles years ago

                Comment


                • #9
                  Ahhh.. Sidd Finch. Truly, one of the greatest fictional ballplayers of all time. Right up there with Lou Proctor.


                  Don't worry Louey, one of these days we will get your place in Baseball History properly resotred.

                  Comment

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