After pitching at the University of Oklahoma, Eddie Fisher was signed by the San Francisco Giants before the 1958 season. He spent all of 1958 in the minors and, although he would see some time in the majors in 1959, 1960, and 1961, he wouldn’t spend an entire season on a big league roster until the Giants traded him to the White Sox in the deal that ended Billy Pierce’s playing days in Chicago. Over the course of 15 seasons in the big leagues, Fisher would play for six different teams, but more for the White Sox than any other team. He started a significant number of games in 1962, 1963, and 1973, but otherwise was used primarily as a reliever. He compiled an 85-70 record during his career, a 3.41 ERA, and 81 saves.
By far Fisher’s most impressive season was his 1965 campaign for the White Sox. Teams generally did not have a defined “closer” in that era; rather, the team’s best reliever was often called a fireman. A fireman would enter a game to protect a lead or close deficit and would usually pitch multiple innings, sometimes 3 or more. Fisher was a White Sox fireman in 1965. His 82 appearances and 60 games finished were both league highs, as was his .974 WHIP. Despite never starting a game, he amassed 15 wins, usually by coming in during the middle of the game. Many of Fisher’s 24 saves during the 1965 season were two- or three-inning efforts. Fisher was especially effective during the first half of the season. Through July 7th, he boasted a 1.21 ERA, 19 saves, and a 9-3 record. He finished the season with a 2.40 ERA and Hoyt Wilhelm took over as the team’s primary fireman, but his incredible season still earned him a spot on the All-Star team and 4th place in MVP voting, the highest a White Sox player had finished since Minnie Minoso also finished 4th in 1960. (White Sox players Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio, and Early Wynn had finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively, in 1959.) The Sporting News awarded Fisher its annual Fireman of the Year award.
June 11th, 1965, was an incredibly accurate microcosm of Fisher’s season. The day featured a double header against the Senators in Washington, D.C. Juan Pizarro started the first game, and through five innings had only given up one run, with the White Sox leading 3-1. After giving up a single to the first batter in the 6th, Al Lopez decided to take Pizarro out and put in Fisher. Fisher finished the game, giving up 3 hits and one unearned run resulting from a passed ball by backup catcher J.C. Martin. In the nightcap, after his dissatisfaction with five different pitchers through seven innings, Lopez again
put in Fisher, this time with the White Sox losing 4-3. Fisher pitched a scoreless 8th, allowing only a harmless single with two outs. The White Sox tied the game on a lead-off home run by J.C. Martin in the top of the 9th, and Fisher pitched another scoreless inning in the bottom half of the inning. In the top of the 10th, Don Buford hit another lead-off home run, putting the Sox in front, and Fisher closed out the game with a perfect 10th inning. By the end of the day, Fisher had pitched seven innings, given up 5 hits and zero earned runs, and earned himself a four-inning save and a three-inning win. The Twins, who also swept a double header against the Tigers, remained 1.5 games ahead of the White Sox.
An undiscerning youngster looking at Fisher’s 1965 baseball card might have been incredibly impressed by his .302 ERA the year before. This, of course, was a misprint, evidence of the hastiness often employed by Topps to get the set to print. Fisher’s ERA had actually been 3.02. Still, you can imagine a 7- or 8-year-old, just learning about statistics, running to his father and exclaiming what an incredible year Fisher had just had.