The 2012 graduate of Suffern High School took his talents as a catcher to Iona College in New Rochelle. However, sometimes the best laid plans often go off the rails and force you to take a detour. That change in direction, though, has allowed Fishberg to forge a career as a relief pitcher in independent ball.
“When I was in high school, I played for the OTB Pirates with Mike Rooney as the coach and he had a close connection with Iona,” Fisherg said, “I trusted Mike with helping me make that decision more than anyone else. It was a great decision and I never looked back.”
At Iona, not all was well with Fishberg’s bat. His arm, however, was another story.
“I struggled as a freshman,” Fishberg said. “I was not as prepared as I thought I was for that level. When my bat wasn’t kicking, we decided to make the decision to make me a pitcher.”
As a sophomore, Fishberg split time between catching and pitching. Junior year saw him strictly on the mound.
“Once I began to pitch – I loved it,” Fishberg said. “It does take a lot of time to learn how to control the tempo out there and how to keep resetting yourself.”
It was the off-season prior to his senior season when it all started to click – mentally and physically – for Fishberg. In his senior year, he went 3-3 with three saves over 22 appearances and 37 2/3 innings. That season, he allowed only 22 hits while striking out 37 and walking 17.
After graduating from Iona in 2016, Fishberg began a tour of independent baseball. He has toed the rubber for seven different independent league franchises – the Ottawa Champions, Quebec Capitales, Sussex County Miners and Boulders of the old Can-Am League, the Vallejo Admirals of the Pacific Association, the Normal (IL) Cornbelters of the Frontier League and the Milwaukee Milkmen of the American Association.
“It is exciting,” Fishberg said. “I am fortunate that I keep getting the opportunities. I do work hard for them – I am the type of pitcher that will keep showing up day after day. I believe that if you keep working hard, good things will happen.”
In 2019, the call came from the Boulders – then of the Can-Am League. This summer, when the All-American Baseball Challenge was formed to fill a void for minor league and independent players, Fishberg hooked on with the “new” Rockland Boulders.
“It is just unbelievable to be able to play in front of your family and friends,” Fishberg said. “Being out in the middle of the country or out on the West Coast, you are alone and in a different time zone from your support group.”
He continued, “When it is going good, it is going good; but when it is going bad and you are out there, you have to try to figure things out on your own. I am very fortunate to have a great support system here in Rockland.”
In addition to his family and friends, Fishberg has also hooked up with Power Arm Performance in Ramsey, NJ, where he works out, but also gets to work with pitching coaches to hone his craft and a nutritionist to help with his diet. The conditioning has enabled Fishberg to be the type of reliever that a manager craves – someone who is willing to throw nearly every day.
“I am willing to go any and every day to help the squad,” Fishberg said. “One thing that I think I did well over the pandemic was I never acted like there was not going to be a baseball season. No matter how down it looked, I kept working because I wanted to be that much ahead when we did get back.”
He added, “We are all blessed and fortunate that we have this opportunity. There are minor league ballplayers everywhere that had their season cancelled and they are wondering what direction their careers are going to take now.”
The All-American Baseball Challenge is a six-team league that includes the Boulders, New York Brave, New Jersey Jackals, Skylands Cardinals, Sussex County Miners and Jersey Wise Guys. Each team is playing a 32-game schedule.
All games in the All-American Baseball Challenge, a summer recreation league comprised of professional and college players, are being held each week on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, running through Sept. 12. In accordance with New York State guidelines, crowds are extremely limited and masks are required as part of the ballpark’s guest separation protocol.
Schedule and ticket information can be found at www.palisadescreditunionpark.com.
Palisades Credit Union Park, Rockland County’s premier outdoor family entertainment center, features drive in fireworks, movies, baseball and more this summer.