Bill Fischer’s life in professional baseball spanned 71 years and included time with two big-league franchises in Kansas City, a major-league record and a World Series ring.
Fischer, who died Tuesday at the age of 88, was the Royals’ pitching coordinator from 2007-10, then became the team’s senior pitching advisor, a job he held for the previous eight seasons.
“He’s meant a lot to a lot of people,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “He was not only an inspiration, but highly valuable to our organization. He was very instrumental in our success from the very beginning here.
“Fisch worked in baseball until the age of 88 and was still one of our most productive and insightful and impactful members of the organization. His mind was as sharp as it’s been since I’ve known him.”
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The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) noted that Fischer was 17 years old when he signed with the Chicago White Sox in 1948, just two weeks after graduating from high school in Wisconsin.
Fischer pitched in the minor leagues until 1951, when he was drafted by the Marines, the SABR story said. He returned to the White Sox minor-league system in 1954 and made his major-league debut two years later.
After pitching parts of three seasons with the White Sox, Fischer bounced between the Tigers and Washington Senators, who would later move to Minnesota.
In 1961, Fischer joined the Kansas City A’s. A year later, he set a major-league record by pitching 84 1/3 consecutive innings without issuing a walk, breaking the mark of 68 set by Christy Mathewson.
The SABR story says A’s owner Charlie O. Finley had promised Fischer a $1,000 bonus if he broke the record, and an extra $100 for every additional inning without a walk. Finley later claimed he’d made a mistake, but Fischer insisted he be paid, and Finley relented, only to take the amount out of Fischer’s next contract, according to SABR.
Fischer’s major-league career ended in 1964, but he pitched in the minors for a few more years before joining the expansion Royals as a scouting supervisor from 1969-74, then as a minor-league pitching instructor for the Royals from 1975 to 1978.
There were stops as a major-league pitching coach with the Reds (1979-83), Red Sox (1985-91) and Rays (2000-01). Fischer was with the Braves’ organization from 1991-2006 before he returned to the Royals in 2007.
“I know he had a huge impact on Roger Clemens’ career and Tom Seaver,” Moore said. “There are many, many people he was very valuable to. We’re very appreciative and certainly honored to be able to have worked with him and been a part of his personal life and professional life, and so there are so many things to be thankful for.”
Current and former Royals expressed their condolences:
Fischer is survived by his wife, Val, and children, Mike and Melissa. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Melissa Nunley tweeted: “Thank you to Dayton,Emily and the entire Royals organization for giving our dad the best baseball life. You are his family”