Photo credit by SportsIllustrated.com
By Nick Kalantzopoulos
With the ability to throw a baseball harder than anyone else, Hayden Siddhartha “Sidd” Finch was one of the best pitchers, and the best figment of one’s imagination of all-time.
Sidd Finch was a Mets prospect in 1985, and had, without a doubt, a strange upbringing. The 28-year-old orphan studied at Harvard and a Tibetan monastery, where he learned, what he called, “yogic mastery of mind-body” under “the great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa” before he was able to throw a baseball 168 miles per hour, a rate faster than anybody. The previous record was a mere 103 miles per hour.
After studying with as many scholarly and religious people he could, he was able to hone in on his craft better than anybody. Instead of cleats, the go-to shoe for professional baseball players for over a century, Finch wore a heavy hikers’ boot on his left foot, and went au naturale with his right, giving him the perfect amount of power and Zen. After deciding between a career in professional baseball and one playing the French horn, Finch chose the former, bringing hope to numerous Mets fans.
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Finch is of course not real, or at least not real in the normal sense. This April 1 marks the thirty anniversary of the 15-page biography by Sports Illustrated on the Met pitcher. Written by George Plimpton, this article gave a whole new meaning to April Fools, and gave some gullible Met fans a shining new hope.
The photo of Finch is in fact Joe Berton, an Illinois junior high art teacher, who was the friend of award-winning photographer Lane Stewart. Another photo was taken of Finch whilst playing his favorite instrument, the French horn, in his uniform, on a sandy beach.
The biography was so extensive, that Met coaches and players, who were happy to be in on the joke, used real quotes to characterize Finch. Finch even had a locker right in-between teammates Darryl Strawberry and George Foster. Finch was such an enigma in the story, that according to Plimpton, he would not drive, so the Mets gave him a personal driver to escort him to the Mets Spring Training Complex from his private pitching complex in Florida, stationed right across the city.
To bring the story to a whole new level, SI contacted then-commissioner Peter Ueberroth, to see whether he improved of the Met pitcher who could throw over 150 miles per hour. According to the SI article, “ Ueberroth took a minute before he asked, ‘Roll that by me again?’” After being given more detail on Sidd Finch, and after SI asked him what baseball was prepared to do going forward with such a talent, Ueberroth had no choice but to exclaim, “I’ll have to see it to believe it!”
This story went on to be one of SI’s most famous in its over 60 years of issues. The Mets of course went on to win the World Series in 1986, the year after Sidd Finch’s simultaneous birth, career, and retirement. So, this begs the question. Perhaps, instead of looking for new pitching prospects, or the next up and coming power hitter, perhaps the Mets should look elsewhere, for their next April Fool.