Manuel shares memories of Fidrych

Posted by ESPN's Claire Smith

NEW YORK -- New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel fondly recalled Mark Fidrych, a friend since the two met at Class AAA Oklahoma City in the Tigers organization.

"I knew him well. Very well," Manuel said. "I was very surprised and saddened [at news of Fidrych's death]. I remember Mark's first game in Triple-A, at Oklahoma City. He comes walking in, with all this curly hair, a white t-shirt, cut-off jeans and red Converse sneakers."

Manuel, saying that the teammates, sensing that they had a character on their hands, encouraged Fidrych to be himself from the very start.

"We instigated it all, I think. We had a big part in him talking to the baseball and all those things. I'm shocked by this. Saddened by this. He was a tremendous character for this game."

Claire Smith is a news editor at ESPN. She covered baseball for 27 years at the Hartford Courant, the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer.