KANSAS CITY -- One of the staples of Royals Spring Training has been the sight of senior pitching advisor Bill Fischer buzzing from diamond to diamond in his golf cart, stopping to chat or debate or simply laugh with scouts and coaches, all the while keeping a watchful eye on the players on the field.
For the many who knew and admired Fischer, it will be a sight sorely missed. Fischer passed away at his home in Council Bluffs, Iowa, late Tuesday night. He was 88.
Fischer is survived by his wife, Valeria, and children, Mike and Melissa.
Fischer, who was in baseball for 71 years, was the Royals' senior pitching advisor the past eight seasons. He was the team's pitching coordinator from 2007-10.
"I'm very thankful that Val and Mike and Melissa were so supportive and were there for him to care for him," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "And I'm extremely appreciative of how our organization, our fans, and the media respected and treated him over the years. It stimulated him and allowed him to stay in the game. And it allowed him to thrive. He was a tremendously valuable part of our organization."
Moore said he met Fischer 25 years ago and that Fischer had a significant impact on his personal and professional life.
"He stayed in the game because people wanted him in the game," Moore said. "His contributions were immense. He was as impactful as any staff member that we've ever had. His mind was so sharp. I was with him Monday, and he was still talking about the players and the team and how we're going to be good again in a couple of years. Everyone loved his input."
Fischer loved to engage in discussions about baseball, or any other topic.
"He was a one-of-a-kind guy," Royals senior director of pro scouting Gene Watson said. "He had a huge heart and was an unbelievable pitching coach. He loved to debate you on anything, and when you walked away, you always were more learned after debating with him. This is a sad day for our organization. He was a foundation for us."
Fischer connected with players of any generation.
"What a great mentor for the Royals and the game of baseball he was," Royals outfielder Alex Gordon said. "He was always a joy to be around every day and he is going to be missed by all of us with the Royals. Every day he would come up to me with a smile on his face and a handshake and ask me something about Nebraska athletics. He was a wonderful man."
Fischer was a Major League pitching coach for the Reds (1979-83), Red Sox (1985-91) and Rays (2000-01). He pitched in the Major Leagues from 1956-64 with the White Sox, Tigers, Senators, Athletics and Twins, compiling a 45-58 record. He still holds the Major League record of 84 1/3 consecutive innings without issuing a walk, set in 1962.
Funeral arrangements are pending.