A whirlwind weekend for former Union College pitcher Jake Fishman ended with him making his major league debut, as well as making some Union history.
Fishman pitched 3 1-3 innings of relief on Sunday for the Miami Marlins against the New York Mets in the Marlins’ 9-3 loss at LoanDepot Park in Miami. The left-hander allowed a run on four hits. He didn’t strike out a batter, but he didn’t walk a batter, either. Fishman threw 49 pitches, 33 for strikes.
Fishman, who played for Union from 2014-16, was pitching for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, the Marlins’ Class AAA minor league affiliate, when he got the news that he would be heading to Miami for the weekend.
“It was definitely a crazy few days,” Fishman said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “On Thursday night, after the game ended in Triple-A, our pitching coach [Jeremy Powell] called me into the manager’s office. Me and my teammate, [pitcher] Nick Neidert, both were in there. Our manager ‘Brownie’ [Daren Brown] said, ‘We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but we’re sending you guys to Miami, and there’s a chance you’ll get activated. So we flew down to Miami early that next morning.
“Nobody really knew what was going on. They kind of just were telling us, ‘Give us a little time, we’re still figuring some stuff out.’ And then a couple hours before that Friday night game, [Marlins manager] Don [Mattingly] called me into his office, and he just shook my hand and said, ‘Congratulations, we’re going to activate you for tonight’s game.’”
Fishman was overwhelmed when Mattingly told him that he was in the majors for the first time.
“It’s so many years of training and playing that build up to that one moment,” said Fishman, whose Dutchmen play their home games at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam. “You dream about that moment for so long. It was pretty much exactly how I imagined it was going to feel.”
There was some nervousness on Friday sitting in the bullpen, but Fishman began to settle in … until the phone call came from the dugout in the fourth inning Sunday for him to start warming up.
“As soon as they called my name, it was basically full-panic mode,” Fishman said. “I basically sailed almost every single pitch I threw to the catcher. Once I actually ran out to that game mound and Mattingly handed me the ball, he just told me the situation is first and second, two outs and he just said, ‘Go get him.’ That gave me comfort, because that’s what every manager has ever said to me when I go out to the mound. It just felt like a normal game.”
When Fishman entered the game to replace Pablo Lopez with one out in the fourth inning, he became the first Union player in over 100 years to appear in an MLB game. A Union press release stated that according to Baseball Reference, Fishman is the first Union alum to play in the majors since Bill Cunningham finished a three-year career with the Washington Senators in 1912. Fishman is the fifth Union player in history to reach the majors, joining Cunningham, Seth Sigsby (1893), Jim McCauley (1885) and Frank Mountain (1880-1882).
“It’s honestly crazy hearing those names and how far and how long it’s been,” Fishman said.
Fishman was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 30th round of the 2016 MLB draft. He has been with the Marlins organization since 2021.
Union baseball head coach Paul Mound knew that Fishman would make it to the majors.
“Jake was the hardest working player I have ever coached,” Mound said. “He is all about Union College.”
Fishman, who is 4-0 with a 1.87 earned run average for the Jumbo Shrimp, was designated for assignment on Monday by the Marlins. Other MLB teams can claim him and put him on their 40-man roster. If Fishman isn’t claimed, the Marlins will send him back to Jacksonville.
Fishman can’t wait until he gets another chance to pitch in the majors.
“I feel like now that that first one is over, it’s a huge weight off my chest,” Fishman said. “It was a great outing, so I feel like that really just gives me the confidence that I can do that in the majors consistently.”