Thursday, April 2

Belated--The Curious Case of Sidd Finch

ITM offers up this morning a belated April Fool's tribute to George Plimpton and his classic baseball prank, The Curious Case of Sidd Finch:

On April 1, 1985, Sports Illustrated published the Plimpton article, a lengthy expose on the Mets new prospect, "a 28-year-old, somewhat eccentric mystic" with a 168 mph fastball, named Sidd (Siddartha) Finch.

The article immediately prompted national interest, and confusion. There were some obvious clues in the story---the 168 mph fastball, the faux-Victorian absurdism, the fact that the first letters of the opening sentence ("He’s a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, Sidd’s deciding about yoga —and his future in baseball.") spell out 'Happy April Fool's Day'. Nevertheless, Sports Illustrated was inundated by curious readers and the Mets got more than one message from opposing clubs, scouts, et al wondering where the heck they had found Sidd Finch and how they had kept him under wraps. On April 8, Sports Illustrated reported a Finch press conference in which he retired due to a sudden loss of accuracy. On April 15, the hoax was revealed.

Today, the story is generally included on lists of all-time great sports writing, as well as those of great American hoaxes. Plimpton, as ever, was the wildly charming, overachieving dabbler. He was a pioneer of what was known as participatory journalism. He threw himself into crazy, over-his-head situations and lived to tell about them.

He fought Archie Moore, who believed he was a young up-and-comer out of the Ivy Leagues. Plimpton nearly died that night, but out of it came Shadow Box, one of the great fight books of all time, and one of the few to really capture in words the feeling of having the absolute snot beat out of you. He later went through an NFL training camp and produced Paper Lion. He even got on the ice for a game with our own Bruins, minding the net for a shift.

In between, Plimpton managed to run one of the great literary magazines in American letters history, the Paris Review, which, under Plimpton's benevolence, nurtured some of the great post-war talent America has seen (in the early days, he kept the magazine funded by inviting an Arab prince to run the bulls with him in Pamplona, asking for a monetary guarantee when his highness appeared in need of help).

Plimpton came from one of the oldest and bluest-blooded families around (see Exeter's Plimpton fieldhouse). His accent had no nationality; it could really only be described as aristocratic. Yet his life was defined, really, by a sense of wonder and amusement, mixed together with an innate ability to connect with almost everyone he met, to charm them with his desire to understand and appreciate them. He was beloved by all, a romantic figure in an age all his own. Plimpton died in 2003.

Every April 1st, Sidd Finch manages to live on.


D Vicino said...

Not sure where you got that image from...but Finch's foot is about the size of Pedroia.

Classic April Fool's prank.

this site sucks my dick said...

now now u guys are fuckers!!!! yankees dont make playoffs??????????..... fuckers!!!!!

D Vicino said...

yet another Yankee fan providing valuable insight...not to mention you're commenting on the wrong post. I remember reading the same out of Yankee fans last year...

I've personally seen multiple analysts and reports leaving the Yanks out of October baseball. Maybe try providing some logic instead of obscenities and the same amount of question marks/exclamation points as a 12 year old girl would use.

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