And, believe it or not, he still is talked about as one of the most exciting players in the history of the game, even though he was basically a one year wonder.
Here are some of his feets:
- He talked to the ball on the mound, exciting baseball fans and non-baseball fans alike.
- His birdlike antics where he would bend over and smooth out the mound gave him the knick name "the bird" because he looked like Big Bird on Sesame Street.
- He was welcomed to the 1976 spring training as a non-roster invitee.
- He wont 19 games in 1976 (3rd best in AL)
- He started for the 1976 American League All Star Team.
- AL Rookie of the Year Award
- Tiger of the Year award from the Detroit baseball writers
- Tigers Rookie of the Year award from the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association
- MLB leader in ERA (2.34)
- AL leader in complete games (24)
- Finished 2nd in AL Cy Young Award voting
- Finished 11th in AL MVP Award voting
- He had 4 shutouts his rookie year
His career basically was ended in spring training 1977 when he tore the cartilage in his knee in a fluke accident where he tripped over a drain in the outfield. While his career essentially ended at that moment, his legacy lives on.
Rest in piece "the bird." The sportsworld will never forget you.