Menacing on the Mound
Thor is a mythical Norse God of Thunder and Lightning whose claim to fame is that the weekday Thursday (Thor's Day) is named after him.
Thursday, April 15 was Thor's Day; as in Thor Fischer. The Minneota senior right-hander stepped on the mound for the first time in his varsity career against Adrian and his fastball snapped off his fingers like lightning and the sound it made when it reached the leather mitt of the catcher simulated thunder.
"Just like a lot of kids, Thor tried pitching a bit when he was younger and it was a little tough for him," said Minneota coach Keven Larson. "The issue, as with most kids, is that the growth spurts they hit change their deliveries and it takes a bit for them to readjust to that. He is definitely one of those kids."
But when Fisher reached his sophomore year, he began developing into a formidable weapon on the mound.
"Obviously, last year threw a wrench into things for him to get more time on the mound, but he was able to get some innings later last summer and some this fall," Larson said. "He is a person that we will rely on this season to be able to throw strikes and eat up innings."
Because of the weird 14 months since COVID reared its ugly head, sports have been discombobulated at all levels. There were no spring sports played in Minnesota last year, denying athletes like Fischer a chance to compete. Minneota coaches joined an unsanctioned summer league so players could compete and not have an entire year away from the sport they love.
Fischer pitched and played first base for Minneota in the summer league and also played "Fall Ball" at Augustana. But he had never played in a varsity game before taking the mound for the 2021 season opener.
"I wasn't nervous or anything because I really didn't even realize it was my first varsity game," he said with a laugh.
His command on the mound didn't reveal any nervousness either. Over five innings against Edgerton at K.P. Kompelien Field in Minneota, Fischer allowed only two hits and no runs, while striking out seven. Minneota went on to win 7-0.
His next start last week against Yellow Medicine East didn't go as well as he was touched for nine hits and four earned runs over three innings. But like all pitchers go through from time to time, Fischer had trouble getting loose that day and didn't have his best stuff.
Fischer looks a lot like his mythical figure namesake with his long mane of hair and beard. Like a lion pouncing on a defenseless prey, Fischer's hair flows in all directions as his fastball zips past a defenseless hitter.
At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Fischer is built like a football lineman. And even though he is athletic, he chose not to play any sport other than baseball in high school.
"I tried basketball for a little while, but it wasn't for me," he said. "And my friends told me I should play football, but I just wasn't interested."
Fischer admits that opponents think he is older because of his facial hair an large frame.
"When I was playing for the ninth and tenth grade team, we went to Marshall for a tournament and they asked me for my birth certificate because they thought I was a junior or senior," Fischer said. "I've heard other comments from people that thought I was older than I am."
With his size and appearance, younger hitters can get intimidated when they step up to the plate.
Fischer, who lost his father, Robert, to a car accident 15 years ago (two days before Thor's third birthday), first got into the sport playing T-ball when he was around five years old.
"My mom (Angela) taught me the basics of playing ball," Fischer noted.
Baseball is now Thor's passion.
"I really like baseball because it's a complex sport with so much going on in the game," he said. "It's also a chance to get out and have some fun with your friends."
Ryan Koopman was a student teacher at Minneota a few years ago and coached the seventh and eighth grade baseball team here.
"He believed in me as a pitcher and gave me confidence," Fischer said about Koopman. "He took the time to work with me and showed me how to throw a curve."
Koopman was the lone coach for 18 kids on the seventh and eighth team and found it hard to work individually with players with such short practices.
"I told all of the kids in the spring and summer seasons that if anyone wants to stay after for extra work, that I was already in Minneota, so I would stick around," Koopman said. "Thor was one of four kids that would stay until the sun went down. When we got into the summer, I offered before and after practice sessions, and Thor was always at one or both with the Schuelke boys (Carter and Josh)."
Koopman now teaches social studies at United South Central in Wells, MN, but is not currently coaching. He has accepted a teaching position in Pipestone for the next school year.
Fischer likes being a pitcher in control of the moment where nothing can happen until he hurls the horsehide.
Fischer's passion for baseball is obvious when looking at his senior pictures; all with him donning a dress shirt and tie while wielding a baseball bat.
"I have always liked baseball," said Fischer, who plans to attend Southwest Minnesota State University next fall for Accounting. "I'm really grateful to all the coaches I've had; Koopman, Keven Larson and J.D. Pesch. They have all been great and taught me a lot."