"Mark Fidrych always will retain a spot in the hearts of all those connected with the Tiger organization and fans through Michigan and the entire nation. Mark is special. He was more than just a great young pitcher. He brought a breath of fresh air to the entire game of baseball when it wa sorely needed."
So said Jim Campbell, Detroit chief executive, in ending the Tiger saga of The Bird. Fidrych, who stood the game on its ear as a 19-9 rookie in 1976, stymied since by injuries, draws his release with a 29-19 career record at age 27.
"The Tigers have done everything they could possibly do. That's the one neat thing about it. I had a chance to do something very few people do and a lot of people stuck with me."
Bruce Sutter, key in St. Louis' best-in-vain NL East overall record, has been certified as league fireman of the year, edging Atlanta's Rick Camp, 51 points to 49, on the formula of two points per win or save, minus one per loss. Rollie Fingers (award sponsor loves his first name) is AL fireman with 65 points. Winning the award, to go with his 1979 Cy Young as a Cub, earned Sutter a $125,000 bonus from the Cardinals.
"You don't mind paying that kind of money. What makes you mad is guys like (Dave) Parker, who make $1,5 million a year and then have clauses which say he gets $5,000 more for making the All-Star team. That what he's supposed to do" -- Whitey Herzog, boss Cardinal . . .
And the leadoff comeback opponent for Joe Frazier is . . . Monte Masters, turned on to boxing at 14, he said, by an Oklahoma movie-house showing of the first Frazier-Muhammad Ali bout in 1971. Frazier-Masters, "sometime after Nov. 15," was announced yesterday by Minnesota Professional Boxing, with a 6-foot-5 Oklahoman, unbeaten in 22 no-name pro fights, instead of expected Scott LeDoux. Fight site: Atlantic City or Oklahoma City, hometown of Masters can his father-in-law/manager, Pat O'Grady . . .
A melee at the World Youth Soccer Championships in Sydney has brought sponsor's call to ban all English supporters the rest of the series: "They are already banned from most of Europe and we certainly do not want them here." Bottles and cans flew between rival supporters after England and Argentina drew yesterday, 1-1. Of scores injured, one spectator was stabbed with a flagpole.
Kallie Knoetze, the South African heavyweight whose U.S. visa was revoked by the Jimmy Carter State Department for alleged "moral turpitude" in shooting a black youth as a policeman in his homeland, was turned away by the Supreme Court yesterday. No matter Knoetze's American connection said later; Kallie retired from the ring in May . . .
"I'll just chalk it up to experience" -- Billy Kilmer, telling the folks at a celebrity golf event in Poca, W.Va., the American Football Association owes him $12,000 for his brief commissionership and he's not likely to get it. Kilmer received one $1,700 paycheck , he said, but you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip, he won't sue . . . Touchdown Club choice for its annual Gene Brito Award to a courageous sportsman: Darryl Stingley. Oct. 23 is the day for the former New England Patriot . . . That really was an awful last minute of football Saturday for Maryland. While Syracuse was creating the 17-17 tie, Jack Zane, Terrapin sports information chief, was down near the field pulling a tendon in his right foot. Zane pronounces himself "probable" for press-box duty this week . . . Lefty Driesell rises to the occasion, matches the basketball grant to son Chuck of Springbrook by donating $1,800 a semester to the Terrapin Fund.
A Bobby Thomson helped Giants to '54 flag by being traded to Braves for pitcher Johnny Antonelli, who went 21-7 as New York beat Brooklyn by five games . . . Q. The three jockeys with 5,000-plus wins?