Sidd Finch: 25th anniversary of the April Fool's prank
Before April Fool's Day slips away, take a few minutes to relive the "The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch," one of the best hoaxes in journalism history -- and a lot funnier than the spaceships in War of the Worlds. This is the 25th anniversary of the George Plimpton's story in Sports Illustrated about a mysterious baseball phenom. The headline said: "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."
Indeed, the Harvard-educated pitcher was said to throw with a perfectly straight arm, like a catapult, but his fast ball traveled at 168 miles per hour. He was touted as a potential savior for the N.Y. Mets, but his eccentricities made it just as likely that he would withdraw to a mountaintop in Tibet. It's a great piece of writing from Plimpton, whose first-hand sports experiences produced a number of books including "Paper Lion" and "Shadow Box."
A lot of folks assumed the story was true. I was a huge Mets fan at the time, but can't recall whether I was snookered. After Sports Illustrated received hundreds of letters about Finch, the magazine finally revealed the hoax. One clue was from the headline shown above: the first letters of the words spell out Happy April Fools Day.