Royals' Fischer recalls days with KC A's

Royals' Fischer recalls days with KC A's

Royals' Fischer recalls days with KC A's
KANSAS CITY -- Bill Fischer's two days as the Royals' temporary bullpen coach came at an opportune time. The Oakland A's were in town and the old Kansas City A's -- Fischer's team in 1961, '62 and '63 -- were to be honored before Saturday's game. All of which prompted some memories from Fischer, a right-handed pitcher in those days.

One of his A's managers was Hank Bauer, the former Yankee who lived in the Kansas City area until his death in 2007.

"He was a good man, he was from the old school. He told you what he thought," Fischer said. "One year I got shut out three times, 1-0, and another time, 3-0. You know what he said? 'About time you're shutting somebody out. Why are you always getting shut out?'"

One of the 1-0 losses was to Minnesota's Jack Kralick, who pitched a no-hitter. That was in 1962, during a period in which Fischer was pitching an astounding 84 1/3 consecutive innings in which he did not issue a base on balls, a record that still stands.

Fischer had impeccable control but he said: "I don't think I could do it today the way the umpires call the pitches," he said.

Well, that and the fact that today he's also 81 years old, albeit a very spry 81. He's very active as the Royals' senior pitching adviser, helping the club polish its pitching prospects.

Fischer was with the A's during Charlie Finley's ownership before he took the club off to Oakland after the 1967 season, spurring the establishment of the Royals' franchise in K.C. Among other things, Finley adorned the A's in their signature green and gold uniforms while still in Missouri.

"He lived 40 miles from Notre Dame and he loved Notre Dame. So Opening Day, we worked out in our old uniforms, then came out in our gold and green pants and shirts," Fischer said. "And they didn't put our names on the back, they put our nicknames."

Fischer, of course, was "Fish."

The A's manager in 1963 was Eddie Lopat, a longtime Yankees pitcher.

"He was forgetful, though," Fischer said. "One time we had George Alusik on the team and one day he hollered down, 'Tell George he's going to hit for the pitcher.' The guy turned and said, 'Ed, you sent him to Portland, Ore., two weeks ago.'"

The Kansas City A's played at old Municipal Stadium.

"That was a nice park. The best was '61 -- it was wide open like this [Kauffman Stadium] and in '62 Finley put chicken wire out there in left field -- in about 20 feet or so -- so we could out-homer the other team. They out-homered us about four to one," Fischer said. "And then he made the 'Pennant Porch' in right field the next year about 290 feet away, like Yankee Stadium, and had the sheep up there with the shepherd. And then he had the donkey."

Sure, the Missouri mule called "Charley O." On Saturday, fans can pose for photos with a Charley O look-alike and the first 20,000 fans at the 1:10 p.m. CT game will receive a vintage 1960 A's cap.

Meantime, Fischer will be spending his time imparting some wisdom to the young relief pitchers. He's sitting in for Royals bullpen coach Steve Foster who, in turn, is subbing for pitching coach Dave Eiland, who is attending a family graduation.