Don Fisher’s No. 1 Super Happy Fun Day
Every time the latest SABR publication arrives in the mail, I always mean to write something.
This time I am!
The lead article in the new Baseball Research Journal is written by J.G. Preston and consists largely of a list of "the unlikeliest pitching performances in major league history." Preston’s criterion is simple and effective: he asked Baseball-Reference.com’s Sean Forman for the pitchers with the largest differences between their best Game Score and their worst. And the result is some weird stories.
I’m going to skip ahead to No. 1 on Preston’s list: Don Fisher, who pitched ever so briefly for the New York Giants in 1945.
This was toward the end of World War II, of course. That season also featured one-armed Pete Gray and 42-year-old batting-practice pitcher Paul Schreiber getting into a couple of games with the Yankees; in ’44, the Reds tossed 15-year-old pitcher Joe Nuxhall to the wolves. Just to give you an idea.
In 1945, 29-year-old Don Fisher was working for the electric company in Cleveland and moonlighting as ace pitcher for a "powerhouse" semipro team. According to Preston,
Fisher reportedly turned down several offers to sign with major league teams before finally coming to terms with the Giants in August. A few days after joining the team he made his major league debut on August 25. He entered the game with the Giants trailing Brooklyn 9-0 and pitched the final five innings, giving up four runs.
And that was the only major league action Fisher saw until manager Mel Ott sent him out to start the first game of a season-ending doubleheader at Boston. On a chilly afternoon, Fisher went the distance in a 13-inning game won by the Giants 1-0, as he scattered 10 hits and walked three. It would be his last major league appearance.
It was not, as you might imagine, a good Dodgers lineup that Fisher whitewashed. Only Tommy Holmes, who went 4 for 6 against Fisher, would play regularly in the majors after 1945.
Fisher actually earned an invitation to the Giants’ camp in the spring of ’46, but pitched just briefly that season for a couple of Triple-A teams before going back to his job with the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company for good.