PHILADELPHIA — Where were you for The Nate Fisher Game?
Central to the Mets’ 10-9 win over the Phillies on Sunday were three scoreless innings in the major-league debut of Fisher, a 26-year-old lefthander who a little over a year ago was out of baseball and working at a Nebraska bank — really.
“I didn’t even know who this guy was when he came into the game,” said Mark Canha, who hit the tying homer in the seventh and a go-ahead homer in the ninth. “Like, man, he did a hell of a job for us today. That was awesome. Gutsy.”
Fisher’s improbable professional baseball tale began in the summer of 2019 when he went undrafted but signed a minor-league contract with the Mariners. They released him in May 2020, during the sport’s COVID-19 shutdown, so he resumed classes at the University of Nebraska to get his MBA (to match his finance degree from the same school).
Then he got a job as a commercial credit analyst at First National Bank of Omaha, “still training a little bit,” he said, just in case he got another shot at the game he loves.
On his LinkedIn profile, in which he describes himself as “formerly a professional baseball player for the Seattle Mariners,” he writes: “I have enjoyed my transition into the business world and look forward to furthering my business experience and expanding my network.”
But in June 2021, the Mariners wanted him back. That meant leaving the job he thought could turn into a long-term career. His bank bosses made the decision easy.
“When I signed with Seattle, they said, ‘If you don’t take it, we’re firing you anyway, so you got to go,’ ” Fisher said.
He rounded out last season in the Seattle farm system and signed with the Mets in November 2021, performing well and proving versatile in the upper minors this year. On Sunday morning — amid significant roster churn during a week that extracted a significant toll on the bullpen — the Mets called him up.
Fisher already had been in Philadelphia as a member of the taxi squad, and his parents, sister and best friends came for the weekend just in case he ended up getting added to the roster. So they were at Citizens Bank Park when Fisher jogged in from the bullpen for the bottom of the fifth. After the game, teammates presented him the championship belt awarded after each win to the pitcher of the game.
Not bad for a guy from Yutan, Nebraska, a town with a population of 1,000 (and a high school graduating class of 22 in his senior class).
“It hasn’t even soaked in yet,” Fisher said. “I’m so thankful that the opportunity arose.”
Injury odds and ends, via Buck Showalter: Eduardo Escobar (strained left oblique) is “doing really well” and “almost pain-free.” He remains on track to return from the injured list when eligible Friday. . . . Tomas Nido’s recovery while on the COVID IL has been “slow.” The Mets had hoped he might return over the weekend, which didn’t happen. He has been out long enough — a week and counting — that he might need a brief minor-league rehab assignment. ”You don’t go from this illness to catching nine innings in the big leagues right away,” Showalter said.