Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Vintage Fridays: Jack Fisher, 1960 Topps #46

Jack Fisher had a knack for giving up historic home runs. During his playing days he was known as "Fat Jack", but as you can see from the three-quarters' photo at left, that was a tongue-in-cheek moniker, as some of the best ones are. Of course, it could also refer to the "fat" pitches that he offered up from time to time. It wasn't as though he had an exceptionally high gopher ball rate; with 193 HR in 1975+ innings, he surrendered less than one clout per nine innings. He just allowed opposing hitters to get the best of him in memorable situations. To wit:

-September 28, 1960, Fenway Park, Boston, MA. 41-year-old Ted Williams is playing in his last game, having previously announced that he will not accompany the Red Sox on their final road trip to New York. Fisher enters the game in the first inning in relief of Steve Barber and inherits a 2-0 deficit. The Orioles rally to take a 4-2 lead as Jack blanks the BoSox into the eighth inning. With one out in the frame, the Splendid Splinter steps to the plate. His rookie season was 1939, the year of Fisher's birth! The lanky righty fires a strike past Williams, and makes the mistake of thinking that he can do so again. His second pitch is walloped to deep center field and over the fence for Ted's 521st career home run, in his last at-bat. In the ninth inning, Fisher would be hung with the loss after second baseman (and ex-Bostoner) Billy Klaus threw away a potential game-ending double play ball.

-September 26, 1961, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY. Almost a year to the date of the Williams homer, Fat Jack does it again. The baseball world has been captivated all season long by the M and M boys, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, and their twin pursuit of Babe Ruth's hallowed single-season home run record. The Mick had been slowed by injuries and would finish the year with 54 dingers. With five games left in the season, Maris was stuck on 59, one short of the mammoth mark. There wouldn't be much waiting around this time: in the bottom of the third inning with the Birds up 2-0, Roger belted a two-out solo home run to right field for the big six-oh. Once again, Fisher lost a one-run game in agonizing fashion, with center fielder Jackie Brandt dropping a Hector Lopez fly ball in the seventh inning to allow the eventual winning run to score. 3-2, Yankees.

-April 17, 1964, Shea Stadium, Flushing, NY. Three seasons later, Fat Jack took the mound on Opening Day for the woeful Mets. It also happened to be the inaugural game at the team's brand new stadium. In the top of the second in a scoreless game, the righthander served up a leadoff home run to Pirates left fielder Willie Stargell. It was the first roundtripper ever hit in Shea. Though the Mets lost 4-3, Fisher was not charged with the loss. Coincidentally, one of Fisher's teammates that season was Tracy Stallard, who gave up Roger Maris' record-breaking 61st home run in 1961.

So there you have it. Jack Fisher was on the receiving end of home run history several times...or maybe that should be the giving end.

By the way, any guesses as to who hit the most home runs off of Fat Jack?

That would be Hank Aaron, who blasted six of his 755 circuit clouts off of the poor guy. Go figure.

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