For Pete Fisch, his first year as President for the High Point Rockers hasn’t been exactly what he expected. As the organization made the announcement for Fisch to take over, the COVID-19 global pandemic loomed in the background – leaving the baseball season with great uncertainty for the young team.
“I was announced as President of the High Point Rockers on March 9th, 2020 and a few days later everything started to change. The schools closed and then the restaurants. Shortly thereafter, the Governor put us on a stay-at-home order.” Fisch told Dugout Dish.
Nestled in High Point, North Carolina, the Rockers were unanimously approved to become a part of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball on March 12th, 2018 after the departure of the Bridgeport Bluefish from Connecticut. A month later, ground was officially broken for what would become Truist Point.
Fisch continued: “Needless to say, my first few months were spent trying to keep my staff employed and to trim the budget at the same time. It has been a wild first nine months, but that’s what makes this industry great. It is challenging and rewarding at the same time. Even with a pandemic, I truly enjoy coming to the ballpark each day. My office has always been at a ballpark, arena, or golf course. How could you not enjoy coming to that each day?”
By 2019, the Rockers were ready to compete against their Atlantic League opponents. With recognizable names such as Dante Bichette Jr., Seth Maness, Brett Austin, and Jesmuel Valentin. Under Manager Jamie Keefe, the team went 74-66 – defeating the Sugar Land Skeeters in their inaugural home game.
“Even with a pandemic, I truly enjoy coming to the ballpark each day. My office has always been at a ballpark, arena, or golf course. How could you not enjoy coming to that each day?”
– Pete Fisch
Fisch began his journey into the baseball industry right out of college in 1989. Spending the majority of his career in baseball, he has also spent time working with the PGA Champions Tour as well as in the Wake Forest University Athletic Department as the Associate Athletic Director.
“My baseball career actually started while I was in high school. I latched on with the local Class AA team in Eastern League the Albany-Colonie A’s, as a parking lot worker. From the first time I worked at the ballpark, I was hooked and knew that was where I wanted to be.”
Continuing: “After college, I was determined to get a full time job in baseball. I saved my money and traveled to Atlanta for the Baseball Winter Meetings in 1988 and handed out resumes. I shared a room with buddy of mine, Steve Gliner, who is now the President of the Hudson Valley Renegades.”
After handing out multiple resumes, it finally worked for Fisch. The Columbus Mudcats offered him the position to become the Director of Stadium Concessions. “It was not what I wanted long term, but I knew it was a way to get my foot in the door. I packed up and moved from New York to Georgia and haven’t looked back since.”
“Someone told me a long time ago to figure out what you want to do and make it happen. I was determined to make this my carer and have stayed in athletics for 31 years since getting out of college.”
While with the team, the Mudcats moved to North Carolina – becoming the Carolina Mudcats. Soon after, Fisch became the Assistant General Manager of the Hickory (NC) Crawdads of the South Atlantic League. “In 1994, I was named Vice President/General Manager of the Winston-Salem Warthogs.”
By 2003, Fisch had became the Associate Tournament Director for a stop on the PGA Champions Tour in Conover, North Carolina. While managing the PGA Champions Tour, he served as Director of Operations for Beaver Sports – the ownership group that managed the Hickory Crawdads, New Orleans Zephyrs, and the Charlotte Knights.
Continuing with his career in the sports industry, Fisch went to Wake Forest University in 2014 to serve as Associate Athletic Director for Guest Experience/Venue Management/Championships and remained there until he joined the Rockers for the 2020 baseball season.
With the new partnership between Major League Baseball and ALPB, Fisch believes the partnership will continue to grow and allow for more exposure of the Atlantic League and Rockers across more MLB channels. “The partnership is very new to all of us and we are still learning the details of that partnership. The first thing is that it adds more credibility to the league and the franchises in the league.”
He continued: “Any time you can associate yourself with Major League Baseball, it adds credibility. Hopefully, that association will also add stability to the league and teams down the road. Once Major League Baseball completes the transition to fewer affiliated clubs, then I believe we will begin to see more of what our MLB partnership means. Major League Baseball has a plan. As a club, I am confident that the details will begin to evolve soon. Needless to say, we are excited about the partnership and look forward to it growing over the next few years.”
“Major League Baseball has a plan. As a club, I am confident that the details will begin to evolve soon. Needless to say, we are excited about the partnership and look forward to it growing over the next few years.”
– Fisch on MLB partnership
With COVID-19 continuing to ravage across America, it’s quite hard for the Rockers and Fisch to finalize any plans for the 2021 season. There are many elements that will ultimately need to be resolved for the organization to know how to tackle 2021.
Fisch stated: “We do not know what our stadium capacity will be. If our capacity is anything less than 100%, then it will affect group sales, season tickets, and promotions in some form. We do not know a league schedule yet either – without a schedule, it’s difficult to plan a promotion schedule.”
As of now, the league is still considering adding teams for 2021 – especially with the loss of the Sugar Land Skeeters and Somerset Patriots. So it’s currently unknown how many teams, how many games, and when the Atlantic League will begin next year.
“With all of those variables, planning has been difficult. Until the pandemic is under control, we just don’t know what the 2021 season will look like. Regardless, we have to be prepared for anything. If there is a silver lining of the current pandemic, it has taught us to operate more efficiently and to be more creative.”
Adding: “Efficiency and creativity will be two key things that will help us survive. With regards to our roster, I imagine we will have some familiar names back in High Point but it’s a little early to really nail that down.”
When asked about the departure of the Skeeters and Patriots, Fisch is confident that the loss of the two clubs could help the Rockers in the future.
“It gives the league a chance to add some more Southern clubs to join the Rockers and Gastonia. We are looking forward to having another team or two within our geographic footprint. It will have an effect on our operating budget for sure. It would also give our fans a chance to have a connection to other Atlantic League clubs. Prior to the addition of Gastonia, Southern Maryland was the closest club.”
He finished by stating: “It is very hard for someone in High Point, North Carolina to consider a team in Waldorf, Maryland as a rival. Obviously, the two teams that are exiting the Atlantic League will be missed. Both were keys to the success of this league and operated at a very high level. Hopefully, the league will find similar organizations to replace them soon.”