John Howard Fisher (born March 4, 1939 in Frostburg, Maryland) was a Major League Baseball pitcher. The right-hander was signed by the Baltimore Orioles as an amateur free agent on June 24, 1957. He played for the Orioles (1959–1962), San Francisco Giants (1963), New York Mets (1964–1967), Chicago White Sox (1968), and Cincinnati Reds (1969). Nicknamed "Fat Jack", he stood 6'2" and weighed 215 lbs.
Fisher was used primarily as a starting pitcher during his 11-year MLB career. He is known for giving up a few historic home runs. One was Ted Williams's 521st in his final major league at bat (September 28, 1960). Another was Roger Maris's 60th home run of the 1961 season (September 26, 1961). Also, he gave up the first home run in Shea Stadium history, to Willie Stargell (April 17, 1964).
He made his major league debut in relief on April 14, 1959 against the New York Yankees at Memorial Stadium. He pitched three innings in the 13-3 loss, giving up seven hits, two walks, four runs (two earned), and striking out five. His first strikeout victim was All-Star catcher Elston Howard, the second batter he faced.
Fisher's best season was 1960, when he had his only winning record (12-11) and was tied for fourth in the American League with three shutouts. From August 24 to September 14 he pitched 29.2 consecutive scoreless innings and ended the year with a 3.41 earned run average, one of his lowest.
His busiest seasons were with the early New York Mets. In four seasons (1964–1967) with the perennial losers he won 38 games, lost 73, and had an ERA of 4.58 in 931.2 innings pitched. (The Mets played .355 ball during this time.) Fisher led the National League twice in losses (1965 and 1967) and three times in earned runs allowed (1964, 1965, and 1967). In 1965 he lost 24 games, still tied with Roger Craig for the most since 1935. In 1967, however, Fisher pitched the lowest-hit complete game of his career, a two-hit shutout over the Philadelphia Phillies (June 21 at Connie Mack Stadium).
The home starting pitcher in first game ever at Shea Stadium, Fisher received the honor of throwing the stadium's first official pitch in 1964. Overwhelmed by the crowd noise and pre-game pomp, Fisher recounts that he asked Mets manager Casey Stengel if he could warm up in the bullpen rather than on the field's pitcher's mound, and credits himself with starting that day the big league custom of starting pitchers warming in the bullpen before the game.
Pitching for the White Sox in 1968, he had a record of 8-13 with a 2.99 ERA, the lowest of his career. In 1969 he was 4-4 with Cincinnati and was traded to the California Angels in the off-season. He was released by the Angels on April 7, 1970 (Opening Day), and his big league career was over at the age of 31.
Career totals include a record of 86-139 in 400 games pitched, 265 games started, 62 complete games, 9 shutouts, 65 games finished, 9 saves, and an ERA of 4.06. In 1975.2 innings he struck out 1017 and walked 605. He had a batting average of .125 in 594 at bats with one home run, hit against Bobby Locke of the Cleveland Indians on August 7, 1960.
Following his retirement from baseball, Fisher settled in Easton, Pennsylvania where he currently lives five blocks from former world heavyweight boxing champion Larry Holmes. He once owned Fat Jack's, an Easton sports bar he sold in 1998.
- ^ a b Klingaman, Mike. "Catching Up With...former Oriole Jack Fisher," The Toy Department (The Baltimore Sun sports blog), Friday, September 17, 2010.
- ^ Hirshon, Nicholas. "Former Mets pitcher Jack Fisher reflects at Shea Stadium," New York Daily News, Thursday, January 29, 2009.
By Dean Hanley
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