New York Mets History

New York Mets greatest prospect that never was, Sidd Finch

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 11: The New Era cap, Nike sunglasses and Wilson glove of Michael Conforto #30 of the New York Mets during a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros at Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 11, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros defeated the Mets 6-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 11: The New Era cap, Nike sunglasses and Wilson glove of Michael Conforto #30 of the New York Mets during a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros at Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 11, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros defeated the Mets 6-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Perhaps the greatest April Fool’s gag in sports history, the story of New York Mets phenom Sidd Finch would be impossible to pull off in today’s world.

The greatest trick George Plimpton ever pulled was convincing the world Sidd Finch did exist. On April 1, 1985, a piece was published in Sports Illustrated by Plimpton profiling the unbelievable story of a New York Mets prospect so outlandish it had to be made up. It was.

Sidd Finch was the subject of Plimpton’s piece meant as an April Fool’s joke. Not everyone realized it at first with many Mets fans excited to see this kid change the baseball world.

Finch was more than just a talented athlete. He led an eccentric life, too. But not necessarily in the way we are used to with real-life athletes.

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Adopted by an archeologist who later died in a plane crash over Nepal, Finch eventually made his way from England to Harvard for a brief stint. After, he left for Tibet to find some inner peace and brush up on his yoga.

Maybe most exciting of all for baseball fans, Finch could throw a baseball 168 miles per hour—at least.

In today’s modern world where a social media post from half a person’s life ago can be dug out rather quickly, there’s no chance Plimpton would have gotten away with this. Things were simpler back then.

Back in 1985, the public didn’t know the truth until April 15th. Mets fans everywhere received a double-blow. Not only did they have to rush to file their taxes, but they also learned Finch was fabricated.

Joe Berton is the name of the man who portrayed Finch in photographs. The junior high art teacher from Illinois became a sensation in the sports world despite not having a fastball nearly as deadly as the one the character he portrayed had in his arsenal.

As far as sports hoaxes go, this one might be at the top of the list. Nobody was hurt except for the hopes of Mets fans wistful for some better days ahead.

Fortunately, the 1986 season was one year away and even without Finch stepping on the mound, they managed to capture a championship.

Over 30 years later, fans of every team are still waiting for the real-life version of Finch to come around. As some beaten down Mets fans would surely suggest, it’s a good thing he isn’t on the farm right now.

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