30 Years Later, the Story Behind Sidd Finch — The Best April Fool’s Sports Joke Ever — Explained
Inside the April 1, 1985, issue of Sports Illustrated was a story about a really weird-looking dude. He was also supposed to be some kind of pitcher -- a kind no one had ever seen before. He wore one hiking boot while he threw. He played the French horn. He spoke 10 languages. And his fastball hit 168 miles per hour.
As it said on the first page above his picture:
He's a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent lifestyle, Sidd's deciding about yoga — and his future in baseball.
'The Curious Case of Sidd Finch,' as the story was called, was written by George Plimpton and has become legendary among sportswriters and fans, perhaps as legendary as its main character would have been -- had he been real. Sidd was an April Fool's Day joke, but a lot of readers didn't pick up on it. (To be fair, the New York Mets farm system was producing some pretty great pitchers in the early to mid-'80s, just not quite this good.)
These days, especially on the internet, everyone knows to be on their toes every first day of April; there's pretty much no chance something like this would work anymore. But 30 years ago, it worked perfectly. ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary series put together a short film about how this story was created and pulled off, featuring interviews with many of the central players. (Sadly, Plimpton died in 2003.) The film, Unhittable, seems like perfect viewing material today.