MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

For Fisher, Truck Day is best gig of the year

Longtime Indians fan responsible for getting gear from Cleveland to Arizona

For Fisher, Truck Day is best gig of the year

CLEVELAND -- It's a tough job. Ed Fisher spends more than 300 nights a year on the road as a driver for Andrews Moving & Storage. Day bleeds to night on those 11-hour-at-a-time treks on the American highway system, and life goes on back home without him. He missed Christmas this past year. First time in more than a quarter century that absence proved unavoidable. His wife didn't take it well.

But once a year, this specific gig comes along. Load up the truck in the bowels of Progressive Field, drive the Indians' gear to Goodyear, Ariz., usher in the start of Spring Training.

It's his favorite route of the year.

"To be perfectly frank with you," Fisher said Friday, in the midst of the load-out, "it's one of the only jobs I really enjoy doing anymore. The guys are great, and they make you feel like you're a part of the team. It's comfortable.

"... I think they realize that I take pride in my work, just like they take pride in their baseball team."

The truck driver has his own overlooked but important role in the Major League universe. His job is both ceremonial and substantial. He's the groundhog who, on an annual basis, doesn't see his shadow. It is a credit to him that spring always arrives on time, come hell or congested traffic patterns.

Fisher, 62 and a Tribe fan since birth, has handled the honor for the Indians for each of the last eight seasons. His first year was their last of training in Winter Haven, Fla. That drive would take about a day and a half. The Goodyear trek is 3 1/2 days, provided the weather doesn't get too nasty on Interstate 40 in Oklahoma, north Texas and east New Mexico.

"Three years ago, I had to go down through Dallas, because 40 was atrocious," he said. "It's right in that zone where it's either snow or ice or both. And east of Albuquerque, there's a stretch of New Mexico that can get pretty nasty."

Gas prices have come down, but the Cleveland-to-Goodyear drive was still set to consume about $1,000 of diesel.

Oh, and $32.50 in tolls to cross Oklahoma.

Fisher was driving the lead of two Tribe trucks (Steve Neely was behind the wheel for the other). His was the one with the huge Indians decal on the side, making him a target not just for truck-stop vandals but, one surmises, aggressive-driving Tigers, Royals, White Sox and Twins fans.

In the back, precious cargo. At least, by baseball standards. Balls and bats and gloves and uniforms and luggage and fitness equipment and more sunflower seeds than you've ever seen in your life.

Oh, and Indians manager Terry Francona's red scooter. Can't forget that.

This isn't the most interesting stuff Fisher has moved. For the first part of his career, he did household moves. One guy had eight-foot-tall suits of armor on the turns of his staircase. Another was a retired Air Force pilot who had the 400-pound tail section of his plane in the garage.

"If people have it," Fisher said, "I've probably moved it."

One time, he was on a run for Andrews when he got summoned to Las Vegas. Victoria's Secret's "Angels Across America" tour had wrapped up, and Fisher hauled the runway models' wings back to the company headquarters in Columbus.

"They were in a box," he said. "No models attached."

Upon arrival in Goodyear, Fisher would have to wait for another assignment, another route to parts as-yet-unknown.

"I wasn't home this summer at all," he said. "I was out a little over three months. Then I got home Sept. 10, was home for two days, left again and didn't get back until the 15th of last month. I've been gone a lot."

His wife, Patricia, wasn't happy with the Christmas development, as you might imagine.

"That was something she was always very insistent about," Fisher said. "We've been married for 23 years. We live in Parma. Well, she lives in Parma; I live in the truck. She puts up with my nonsense."

And Ed puts up with whatever the road bears. When he first got called for the Indians job, it was pure happenstance, luck of the draw. Yet he handled it so professionally and worked so diligently at the loading and unloading that they've kept asking him back.

"I've become a familiar face," he said with pride.

The face -- and the right foot -- that brings us baseball.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.