Happy April Fools

Sidd Finch

Sports Illustrated pulled one of the all time great Aprils Fools jokes in their April 1, 1985 edition. Perhaps the greatest American literary sports writer, George Plimpton, penned an article about a Mets prospect named Hayden “Sidd” (Siddhartha) Finch who could throw 168 mph but was choosing between a career playing baseball or the french horn.

From Wikipedia:

“Finch grew up in an English orphanage and was adopted by an archaeologist who later died in a plane crash in Nepal. After briefly attending Harvard University, he went to Tibet to learn “yogic mastery of mind-body,” which was the source of his pitching prowess.

The subhead of the article read: “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 letters of these words (through “yoga”) spell out “Happy April Fools Day.” Despite this clue and the obvious absurdity of the article, many people believed Finch actually existed. The magazine printed a much smaller article in the following April 8 issue announcing Finch’s retirement. It then announced it was a hoax on April 15.

The story was accompanied by photographs of Finch, including one featuring a young Lenny Dykstra and another of Finch talking with the Mets’ actual pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyre. The Mets played along with the hoax, even providing a uniform for Joe Berton, a junior high school art teacher from Oak Park, Illinois, who posed as “Finch” for the photographs (usually with his face averted from the lens).

Plimpton eventually broadened his article into a novel, first published in 1987″

The entire article can be found on SI Vault.

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