Tom Fisher was a longtime ace of the Southern Association, pitching in Shreveport and Atlanta for many years and managing teams, too. Nicknamed “Red” for his auburn hair, Fisher got a full season in the rotation with the Boston Beaneaters in 1904. He wasn’t awful – though he went 6 – 16 for a bottom feeder. Fisher even hit a pair of homers (including one that rolled through an open gate). However, he was back in the Southern Association before you knew it – winning between 13 and 24 games a year until 1911 and playing first base or right field when needed.
Born on November 1, 1880 to Tom and Nancy (Craig) Fisher, named for his father, and raised in Anderson, IN, Thomas Chalmers Fisher, Jr. came from an athletic family of eleven boys (!). His older brother, Chauncey, was a major league pitcher for five teams between 1893 and 1901. Initially, Tom Fisher played baseball and football for the Anderson (IN) High School teams from 1897 to 1899 and was pitching in local weekend games in Bloomington, IN when a scout from Indianapolis saw him pitch. The year after he graduated, the Southern Association was formed and Fisher was able to head south to play for Shreveport. He even got the start in the home opener. Even suffering through a minor injury, Fisher won 17 of 29 starts for Shreveport.
As a Beaneater, Fisher got off to a fairly good start even though his team fell quickly to the basement of the National League. “Fisher is … cool under fire,” the TSN correspondent wrote, “and uses excellent judgment in pitching.” Years later, Fisher remembered that a handful of the Boston Beaneaters wouldn’t play ball on Sunday, so the pitchers would frequently cover other positions. The Sporting News wrote, “Manager Buckenberger is much chagrined over the fact that three members of his team will not play Sunday base ball; the men being Fred Tenney, Charlie Pittinger and pitcher Wilhelm. Tenney’s reason for not playing Sunday is that his contract does not call for it and ‘Pit’ declares that he promised his mother he would never play baseball on Sundays, while Wilhelm merely objects to playing on the Sabbath.”
A few years later after his first unsuccessful season and not yet 31, he left baseball to go into business. Fisher and his brother owned an iron foundry in Anderson, and when he met his fiancee, Helen Kaufmann, his days in baseball were numbered. He started a coal and feed business and later worked for the Union Grain Company until he retired. Fisher also served as a director for the Anderson Chamber of Commerce. Thomas and Helen raised two sons, Tom and Dan.
According to an article in the Anderson Daily Bulletin, Fisher said he lost all his baseball mementos in an attic fire in 1923. And, other than making the majors, his biggest thrill was tossing a perfect game for Shreveport on 1 September 1906 against Montgomery. “I struck out 14 men,” Fisher added.
Fisher lived into his 90s, dying in his birth city of Anderson, IN on 03 September 1972. Fisher suffered a heart attack, though he had been ill for much of the previous year.
Note in the Indianapolis Journal, 3 March 1901, Page 3.
“Ready for the Opening”, Shreveport Times, 1 May 1901, Page 6.
“Nashville in the Van”, The Tennessean, 15 July 1901, Page 6.
“Fielding Finely.”, The Sporting News, 21 May 1904, Page 1.
“Fisher’s Record Breaking Game of Saturday Afternoon,” Shreveport Journal, 03 September 1906, Page 3.
“Southern Sayings”, Sporting Life, 23 September 1911, Page 17.
Lane, Kevin. “Baseball Excitement Lingers for Local Ex-Pro Tom Fisher”, Anderson Daily Bulletin, 26 August 1970, Page 14.
“Thomas C. Fisher (Obit),” Anderson Herald, 05 September 1972, Page 3.