Ed Fisher: The tale of ‘The Missing Tiger of 1902’

Ed Fisher appeared in one game for the Detroit Tigers – in the final month of the 1902 season – and for the next 78 years, he was only known as “The missing Tiger of 1902.”

Fisher really wasn’t known at all. He was that much of an obscure player.

In June of 1980, baseball historian Kevin McGraw decided to challenge the notion that the Fisher who pitched for the Tigers in one game of the 1902 season was not Thomas Chalmers Fisher, as had been believed. The reason why it was believed to be Thomas Chalmers Fisher is that Fisher pitched for the Boston Beaneaters in 1904, and he was the only major-league pitcher with that surname around that time. Nobody knew of Edward Fredrick Fisher.

McGraw began to research the Detroit newspapers from that time, but the only account he found was a reference to “Fisher from the Muskegon State League team.” Intrigued, McGraw drove to Lansing, Michigan, the nearest place he could find the Muskegon newspaper on microfilm. McGraw hit the jackpot when he read in the Muskegon Chronicle that Eddie Fisher, the former Muskegon pitcher, was in the major leagues for 40 minutes when he pitched against Baltimore the previous day.

The newspaper also mentioned that Fisher was to enroll in the Detroit College of Medicine, which later would be known as the Wayne State University Medical School in Detroit. Reading his biography at the school, McGraw learned that Fisher had been a successful physician who was active in politics while he lived in Dearborn, Michigan.

Still, McGraw could not be certain that this Ed Fisher was the same Ed Fisher that had pitched for the Tigers in 1902. Then, he came across the rough draft of a press release about Fisher, and it said, “(Fisher) worked his way through medical school as a semi-professional baseball pitcher, graduating in 1906.”

McGraw was able to contact three descendants of Fisher to interview them and help them fill out a questionnaire for the Baseball Hall of Fame, which tries to have one on file for every player who appeared in at least one game in the major leagues. McGraw also wrote of his findings for SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research.

Oh, about that baseball game. Win Mercer, the Tigers’ top pitcher in 1902, was removed from the game after the Orioles scored six runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 10-1 lead on September 5, 1902, at Bennett Park in Detroit. Fisher then came on to pitch the final four innings. He allowed five runs – all unearned – as the Tigers lost to Baltimore 15-1. The Orioles scored twice in the seventh and three times in the ninth – and it was the most runs allowed by the Tigers in one game all season.

Fisher allowed four hits and walked one batter and did not register a strikeout. He also was 0-for-2 at the plate – but it took 78 years for anybody to be able to make it official for him.

Fisher lived a fascinating life. A year after graduating as valedictorian of his class in 1906, Fisher began his medical practice as a surgeon for a coal-mining operation in Diamondville, Wyoming, where he stayed for six years and served on the State Board of Health and was elected to the Wyoming State Legislature.

Fisher returned to Michigan in 1915 to set up a private practice, and he became involved in politics. He was president of the city of Dearborn from 1922-26 and was elected as the Republican representative for his district in 1928. Fisher also was a Michigan state legislator from 1929-33 and 1935-43. The only political office that he pursued but did not win was mayor of Dearborn in the early 1940s.

Fisher worked for Henry Ford and Son as a surgeon, and his daughter, Lolita, married Henry Ford’s nephew, Bunham. Fisher became head of the Dearborn Health Department in 1946.

Fisher died July 24, 1951, in Spokane, Wash., at age 74. He is buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Wayne, Mich.

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