Inductee — Fred Fitzsimmons

fredfitzsimmonsFred Fitzsimmons

Class of 1992

Birthplace: Mishawaka, IN

Player

Deceased

Biography:

FITZSIMMONS, Frederick Landis (“Fitz,” “Fat Freddie”) – born July 28, 1901, Mishawaka; died Nov. 18, 1979, Yucca Valley, Calif. New York (NL) 1925-1937, Brooklyn (NL) 1937-1943. P. 513g, 3,223.2ip 217-146, 3.51. MGR, Philadelphia (NL) 1943-1945, 105-181. Debuted Aug. 12, 1925. 5-11, 185, BR, TR.

Fred Fitzsimmons won more games than several notable Hall of Fame pitchers during his 19-year career. His Hisfather, a Mishawaka police chief and a former sandlot player, encouraged his sons interest in baseball. Fred began working on a knuckleball at age 15. He developed complete confidence in the pitch and threw it with great accuracy. Four years later Fitzsimmons made his professional debut with Muskegon (Central). He moved up to Indianapolis (American Association) in 1922, compiling a 40-31 record in all or part of four seasons with the Indians.

Fitzsimmons joined John McGraws New York Giants in the summer of 1925. He went 6-3 that year and in 1926 his 14 wins led the team. From 1925-1934 Fitzsimmons never had a losing season. From 1928 to 1937 he and Carl Hubbell gave New York a potent righty-lefty combination. In 1928 Fitzsimmons compiled a 20-9 record, and his .731 winning percentage led the NL in 1930. In 1931 he was New Yorks opening day starter. A fine fielder and fair hitter, Fitzsimmons hit a grand slam home run in 1931. Appearing in two World Series for the Giants, he was the losing pitcher in Game 3 versus the Washington Senators in 1933. In 1936 he dropped a pair of decisions  one a two-hitter  to the New York Yankees.

In July 1935 Fitzsimmons underwent arm surgery, but by September he was pitching again. The Giants traded him to the Brooklyn Dodgers in June 1937. In 1940 Fitzsimmons went 16-2 and his .889 win-loss percentage led the league. He pitched in only 13 games for Brooklyn in 1941, when the Dodgers won the pennant. The 40-year-old Fitzsimmons started the third game of the World Series against the New York Yankees. He pitched seven scoreless innings, but had to leave after a line drive struck his left leg.

Fitzsimmons, who also coached for the Dodgers, pitched for two more seasons. He took over as manager of the Phillies in July 1943. Philadelphia finished seventh that year and came in last in 1944. Late in June 1945 the Phils were in the basement when Fitzsimmons resigned. But he was far from finished in baseball. Fitzsimmons, who had earned his nickname by gaining 50 or more pounds over the years, coached for the Boston Braves, Giants, Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Athletics from 1948 to 1966.

Fitzsimmons spent two years as general manager of a football team, the Brooklyn Dodgers of the All-America Football League. Early in his career, he purchased a ranch in California. Fitzsimmons and his wife eventually moved to Yucca Valley, Calif., where he helped coach a local high school team. He died of a heart attack at age 78.

Fitzsimmons 217 wins for the Giants and Dodgers surpass the career totals of Hall of Famers Stan Coveleskie, Jesse Haines, Don Drysdale, Bob Lemon, Hal Newhouser, Dazzy Vance, Lefty Gomez, Sandy Koufax and Dizzy Dean. In Hall of Fame balloting between 1948 and 1962, however, Fitzsimmons received only 38 total votes. In 1992 he entered the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame.

From The Encyclopedia of Indiana-Born Major League Baseball Players, copyright © 2007 by Pete Cava. Reproduced with the authors permission.