Faiola '06 to star in baseball documentary

by Kate Mulley | 11/1/04 6:00am

A Dartmouth baseball player will appear tonight on an ESPN documentary that promises to tell some of Sports Illustrated's greatest stories. Dartmouth pitcher Josh Faiola '06 will be portraying one of the most intriguing characters of all: a left-handed Mets pitcher named Sidd Finch who supposedly threw pitches at 168 miles per hour and wore hiking boots when he pitched.

The Finch story, written by George Plimpton, appeared on April 1, 1985. Sidd, short for Siddhartha, had reportedly traveled to Tibet to learn the teachings of Lama Milaraspa and learn the art of the pitch.

After a few weeks and more than 2,000 letters to the editor from readers duped by the mystical man, Sports Illustrated published an article noting that the Sidd Finch story had been a hoax written in honor of April Fool's Day.

Because of the controversy surrounding the article, the Sidd Finch story will be included in the documentary. The producers spent the summer looking for pitchers on the East Coast to play the fabled pitcher, and were drawn to the high level of play in baseball's premier college summer league, the Cape Cod League. Faiola pitched for the championship-winning Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox this summer and was named co-MVP of the playoffs.

Faiola mostly attributes his casting to the sideburns that he grew out over the summer, but teammates said he's a natural for the camera. Dartmouth pitcher Stephen Perry '07 had only good things to say about his teammate's looks.

"Seeing how Josh is the best-looking kid on the team, it's only appropriate that he be in the movies," Perry said.

Dressed in a flannel shirt and hiking boots, Faiola spent four-and-a-half days with the production team filming throughout New York City and in Shea Stadium. Faiola also spent time meditating and playing the French horn on camera for the documentary, but only had two lines in what will be a five or six-minute segment of the documentary.

Jeff Speights '05 saw Faiola's opportunity as another means for realizing his great potential.

"Nobody has worked harder at improving his game and making himself one of the premier pitchers in the Ivy League," Speights said. "He deserves everything that comes along with his success."

Faiola's affair with the silver screen is not limited to the ESPN documentary. In addition to his stint as Sidd Finch, Faiola took part in a filming of TLC's Trading Spaces Family aired in early October. His host family on Cape Cod participated in the television program over the summer. Faiola described Trading Spaces Family as "ridiculous, but a lot of fun and a great experience."

But Faiola does not have stars in his eyes yet; he is focusing more on the upcoming baseball season than his career in front of the camera. While he is considering playing professional baseball, he is setting his sights closer to home right now.

"I'm more concerned with doing everything I can to help this team put an Ivy Championship Ring on their fingers," he said.