The last time the California League saw a run-producing night like Derek Fisher's, President Dwight Eisenhower was in his second year in office, Elvis Presley had just recorded his debut single, "That's All Right," and Hank Aaron was a month removed from the first of his 755 career home runs. On Saturday night, Fisher announced his arrival in the Golden State in a major way.
The Astros' No. 11 prospect broke the 61-year-old Cal League record by driving in 12 runs on a three-homer, four-hit night as Class A Advanced Lancaster thumped High Desert, 16-3, on Saturday.
"It's pretty surreal," Fisher said shortly after his historic performance. "It's something that I never would've even dreamed of, to be honest with you. I obviously couldn't have done it without getting up to the dish with the bases loaded twice in three innings. That speaks a lot to how we were swinging the bats and getting walks and putting good ABs together. I couldn't have had the RBIs without these guys on base."
Fisher's career night actually started with the bases empty. With one out in the first, the 37th overall pick in last year's Draft belted a solo shot to right field to give the JetHawks a 1-0 lead. An inning later, he mashed a grand slam to center field as part of a six-run outburst.
"I was getting good pitches to hit," he said. "My first at-bat was just a fastball over the plate and from then on, I was just trying to think that I had to go up with a defined plan each time. Other than that, it was just zeroing in on a pitch. Hopefully, I'd get it and put a good swing on it."
In the third, the University of Virginia product did it again. With one out and the bases packed, Fisher crushed his second grand slam, this one to left.
"It was just kind of like the first two," Fisher said of the celebration after his third homer in as many trips. "They were throwing water everywhere -- that's what they do here. This team's a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the rest of the time with these guys."
Fisher wasn't done. After Lancaster strung together three singles to open the seventh, he drove what appeared to be a bases-clearing triple to center but was called out at third base after failing to maintain his hold on the bag following a slide. Still, the extra-base hit broke the previous Cal League record of 11 RBIs in a game set by Stockton's Robert Rivich on May 22, 1954. Rivich's Cal League boasted teams like the Channel Cities Oilers and Bakersfield Indians, the latter an affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
"I couldn't put it in perspective until you said what you just did, that the Brooklyn Dodgers had an affiliate," Fisher said. "That's pretty remarkable."
Rivich told MiLB.com in a 2007 story, "The bases were loaded pert near every time I came up." Fisher knew the feeling on Saturday.
These guys play very loose, and that's the way baseball should be played," he said. "We have a lot of fun, no matter what. When you've got guys battling -- the guy in front of me in Brett Phillips putting together some of the best ABs you're going to see -- that just makes you turn it up a little bit. When he sees about eight pitches and gets a walk for you and puts together some great at-bats, you can't let those go to waste."
To put Fisher's night in perspective, consider that the outfielder had eight homers and 42 RBIs in 81 games since he was drafted. His performance at High Desert equaled half of his RBI total from his first 39 games this season with Class A Quad Cities. Friends, family and fans everywhere watched as the night unfolded.
"The text messages, I had about 60," he said. "[Twitter] notifications was just '20+' [the maximum listed], so I couldn't tell you how many. It just said '20+.' A lot of the guys were crowded around me as I was opening my phone. They just wanted to see what was going on when we were on the field."
Even Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow took notice.
The JetHawks added 14 more hits, including three from leadoff man and No. 7 prospect Phillips on his 21st birthday and four from James Ramsay.
Lancaster starter and No. 26 Astros prospect Adrian Houser (1-2) took a no-hitter into the sixth and earned the win, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out seven over six innings.