PHILADELPHIA -- At this time 14 months ago, Nate Fisher had completely left behind the game of baseball. After the 2020 Minor League season was cancelled and he was released by the Mariners, the left-hander returned home to Nebraska where one of his old baseball coaches set him up with a job at a local bank.
Yet on Sunday afternoon, the 26-year-old Fisher not only took a big league mound at Citizens Bank Park, he fired three scoreless innings in his MLB debut to help lead the Mets to a 10-9 victory over the rival Phillies.
"It's been a crazy journey," Fisher said. "I always believed in myself, never got down on myself. My family and support system has been so amazing and just so critical. I'm just so thankful for the people around me that kept me going when there was some uncertainty, and I'm just truly blessed for the opportunity."
Much of that support system was in attendance on Sunday, with his mom, dad and sister, as well as two of his closest friends, watching from the seats when Fisher trotted in from the center-field bullpen to start the bottom of the fifth inning.
They listened as Fisher's name was called in front of a big league crowd for the first time -- though it turns out the public address announcer's introduction wasn't just for the fans.
"I didn't even know who this guy was when he came into the game today," said Mets left fielder Mark Canha, who hit a pair of homers in the victory. "And man, he did a hell of a job for us today. That was awesome."
Fisher worked around a one-out walk to turn in a clean fifth, but then it appeared as if his long-awaited debut might be cut short when the skies opened up and the tarp was brought onto the field following a leadoff walk to Kyle Schwarber in the sixth.
But given what Fisher had gone through over the last three years, a little rain certainly wasn't going to ruin his special day.
The left-hander went undrafted out of the University of Nebraska after going 7-3 with a 3.27 ERA over 15 starts in his 2019 senior season. Fisher then signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners, posting a 4.10 ERA over 12 outings with High-A West Virginia and Single-A Everett.
Hoping to start climbing the ranks the following year, Fisher's plans changed when the 2020 Minor League season was cancelled due to COVID-19. When his former coach offered him a job at First National Bank of Omaha, Fisher returned home to take a position as a commercial lending analyst after being released by the Mariners in May 2020.
"With COVID, there was so much uncertainty," Fisher said. "I didn't know if the opportunity would arise again, so when it came, I just obviously ran with it. This is my dream. So I just tried to make the most of it."
Just more than a year later, Fisher got another shot with the Mariners. He signed a Minor League deal with the organization in June 2021, then went on to post a 2.89 ERA over 37 1/3 innings that spanned from Rookie Level to Triple-A Tacoma last season.
Fisher hit free agency and signed another Minor League deal -- this time with the Mets -- on Nov. 28, 2021. He started the 2022 season with Double-A Binghamton, putting up a 3.77 ERA over 12 games (two starts) before being promoted to Triple-A Syracuse, where he had a 3.12 ERA in 12 outings (10 starts).
With the Mets facing so much uncertainty on the pitching staff due to injuries piling up in the midst of playing 13 games in 12 days, Fisher joined the team in Philadelphia this weekend -- though he still didn't know if he'd actually get a callup.
It finally came on Sunday morning.
"It's kind of indescribable," Fisher said. "I'm just so thankful and so blessed for the opportunity."
Considering all of that, it's no wonder Fisher wasn't fazed by needing to wait out what proved to be a 46-minute rain delay to continue his debut. He returned to the mound to throw two more scoreless innings, setting the stage for New York's incredible comeback.
Fisher was rewarded postgame with the Mets' championship belt, given to the pitcher of the game.
"I know his story; that's pretty cool," manager Buck Showalter said. "The guys were so pumped -- they know what it meant for the team."
So what exactly did Fisher do during his time as a commercial lending analyst?
"Evaluating loans," Fisher said. "And a lot of other fun stuff."
He had a lot more fun on Sunday, though he noted the Phillies’ lineup presented much more of a challenge than a typical day at his previous job.
"But those days can get long at the bank, too," Fisher added with a smile.