Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mark Fidrych Death Blamed on Spinning Shaft

Former major league pitcher Mark Fidrych -- who went into the trucking business nearly 25 years ago after losing his baseball career to injuries -- was likely killed instantly when his shirt became entangled in a powerful, turning mechanical shaft beheath his vehicle, his mechanic explained Tuesday.

"It was one of those 'I didn't mean to do that' mistakes that in this business will kill you," said Alan Anderson, service manager at Ballard Truck Center in Worcester, Mass., in an exclusive interview with MLBNewsOnline.com.

"It just sucked him in. It's an awful way to go," said Anderson, who sold the truck to Fidrych in 1986.

The shaft, which runs from the engine to a gearbox that hydraulically raises and lowers the dump truck box, generally should not be in operation while personnel are under the truck, Anderson said.

He described Fidrych as a close friend and remembered that he taught the former Tigers Rookie of the Year and Red Sox farmhand to drive the truck when he sold it to him new.

"I was shocked. It's a terrible loss," Anderson said.

State police, who are assisting in the investigation, withheld a statement pending results of an autopsy being awaited by the district attorney's office. The district attorney's office expected no update before Wednesday.