The secret cannot be kept much longer. Questions are being asked, and sooner than later the New York Mets management -- and Sports Illustrated -- will have to produce a statement.

Just who is Hayden (Sidd) Finch? Who is this fellow who can throw a baseball 168 mph? The man the scouting reports rave "could be the phenom of all-time"?

This week's issue of Sports Illustrated, dated April 1, details the legend of Finch, written by George Plimpton.

"I never dreamed a baseball could be thrown that fast," the story quotes John Christensen, a prospect in the Mets' organization, as saying after facing Finch in a batting cage at the team's spring training complex in St. Petersburg, Fla. "As for hitting the thing, frankly, I just don't think it's humanly possible."

It's almost too much to believe, a 14-page story about a man raised in an orphanage in England, who was a dropout from Harvard, who lives his own strange life style and has never played an organized game of baseball but learned how to throw the perfect pitch while in the mountains of Tibet.

The clue to the story is contained in an introductory paragraph.

"He's a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life style, Sidd's deciding about yoga -- and his future in baseball."

The first letter in the first words, when strung together, read:

"H-a-p-p-y a-p-r-i-l f-o-o-l-s d-a-y."