Sidd Finch
From April 1, 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated

I was vulnerable.

My favorite team in sports, The New York Mets, were actually up and coming, after 13 years of supreme suckiness. Hope springs eternal, but it was especially true for Mets fans in April of 1985.

And when Sports Illustrated came out with the story, “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch”, I was ecstatic. Really, the Mets have a prospect who can throw a fastball 168 mph (270 kmh)? He wore one shoe, he played the French horn – well these eccentricities were proof that it had to be true. After all, there were pictures of him, and his locker was between those of George Foster and Darryl Strawberry. After 13 years in the wasteland, our savior had come!

George Plimpton wrote the piece that set off a media firestorm. TV news crews were sent to Florida to interview the mystery pitcher on the Mets. But no one could find him. And then two weeks later (remember, this is pre-social media), New York Mets fans woke up.

April Fools.

Writing an April Fools story is walking a fine line between incredulity and credulity. It’s got to be believable enough, and yet outlandish enough to make you go, “Say what?” Here are a few April Fools’ stories regarding the Olympics.

On April 1, 2014, this video was released announcing that skateboarding would be an Olympic sport in 2016. A day later, it was revealed to be a prank. Of course, as we know now, skateboarding is actually one of the five new sports that Tokyo 2020 is recommending for the 2020 Games.

Last year, twelve-time Olympic medalist over five Olympic Games, Dana Torres, announced she was coming out of retirement to compete at the Rio Games. Yes, she was 47. But yes, she was a swimming legend and still in fantastic shape.

Dana Torres Twitter

In April 2008, the UK Telegraph placed their April Fools story so far in the past it had to be true – that the 1900 Olympics in Paris featured a poodle-clipping competition. This story

Leon de Lunden of Belgium won the live pigeon shooting event at the 1900 Olympics in Paris
Leon de Lunden of Belgium won the live pigeon shooting event at the 1900 Olympics in Paris

Up in the air they flew – 8,000 pigeons released into the piercing blue sky, free as a….um….bird.

Many remember the Summer Games in 1964 for the moment pigeons filled the National Stadium during the Opening Ceremony. Not many remember the Summer Games in 1900 for the moment when pigeons were blown out of the sky.

Hard as it may be to believe, pigeon shooting was an Olympic sport at the Games in Paris 115 years ago. The Olympian would stand at the ready with a rifle when pigeons were released in front of him. About 300 pigeons were shot down dead in what must have been a grisly messy event. The gold medalist was Leon de Lunden of Belgian with 21 kills. The silver and bronze medalists shot down 20 and 18 respectively, as part of a total 300 birds killed.

Pigeon shooting was replaced by clay pigeon shooting at the 1904 Games in St Louis, Missouri.

Clay Pigeons is also the name of my favorite Blaze Foley song.

No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog post.