June 7, 2007

Finding Tony Fiore

Tony Fiore pitched for the Twins for three season from 2001-2003. But after that 2003 season, he suddenly disappeared from the team, and never pitched in another Major League game. In fact, his last game on record was June 16, 2003, which would be in the middle of the season. So, that brings up the question, where is Tony Fiore?

Well, the answer wasn't all that easy to find. However after looking around, I remembered some things, and I also found out where he has been, and where he is now.




His MLB Career

Tony Fiore first pitched for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2000, and then came over to the Twins in 2001. He pitched in only 4 games that season for the Twins, but returned the next season, and had a career year. In fact, in 2002 he pitched in 48 games and had a career high 10 wins and a 3.16 ERA, a career low. That season, he made his first postseason appearance pitching in the ALDS. The next season, he again returned to the Twins and pitched in 21 games. However his production went down and he posted a 5.50 ERA. As I mentioned above, he pitched his last game on June 16th that season, and since then he has somewhat disappeared.

Fiore was well known for his palmball, and was one of very few Major League pitchers to throw it. In fact, Phil Rogers of ESPN once wrote this about Fiore in a special story:

Scouts might as well be trying to measure Tony Fiore's palmball with a sundial. It sometimes takes so much time to get from his hand to home plate that it doesn't register on radar guns.
YearTeamWLERAGIPHRERHRBBSO
2001TB005.4033.1422013
2001MIN015.6846.1544025
2002MIN1033.164891.0743232104355
2003MIN115.502136.032252252123

The Transactions
According to Baseball-Reference, what happened after that 2003 season was this:

September 29, 2003: Granted Free Agency.
December 18, 2003: Signed as a Free Agent with the Houston Astros.
June 24, 2004: Released by the Houston Astros.
July 14, 2004: Signed as a Free Agent with the Baltimore Orioles.
October 15, 2004: Granted Free Agency.
November 16, 2004: Signed as a Free Agent with the Baltimore Orioles.
October 15, 2005: Granted Free Agency.

Some other things I found was that he was signed by the Tigers and got released. Also, a line that I found from Sports Illustrated is the following. It shows that he pitched for AAA Rochester in August of the 2003 season. That would explain why he didn't pitch in the majors after June 16, because he was sent down and later granted free agency.

RHP TONY FIORE tossed seven strong innings in a 6-1 triumph over Buffalo
August 24. Fiore allowed a run and four hits over seven innings for the
win...
While he did sign with the Astros and Orioles, he never pitched in a Major League game for either team. Another thing is the fact that these records leave off in 2005. So, I kept looking, and I then found his most recent team.

The Long Island Ducks

After finding all of this stuff, I saw that he has recently, in 2006, signed with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. So, I went to the Duck's official site, and it was confirmed when I found this story. Here is states that he was signed by the team, and it also confirms that he did indeed pitch for the Tigers AAA team.

(Central Islip, N.Y., June 23, 2006) – The Long Island Ducks, members of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, today announced that they have signed
former Major League pitcher Tony Fiore to a contract for the 2006 season. The
signing brings the number of players on the Ducks roster with MLB experience to
13.

The 34-year old comes to the Ducks after beginning the season with
Toledo (AAA, Tigers) where he fanned 18 batters in 26 innings of work.

SeasonRecordERA
20067-22.71

The Atlantic League
The Atlantic League is not affiliated with Major League Baseball, but is it's own independent league. Players can be signed by Major League teams from this league, and the reason for this league is to give players a chance if there isn't one for them with a Minor League or Major League team.

In fact, if you go to this page, you'll see the reason for the league. It states that many of its players are former Major Leaguers that still want to play baseball. At the same time, many are young players who want a chance, and many get them such as Chris Widger who went directly from the Atlantic League to the Chicago White Sox and a World Series Championship.

Also, there are many great players that have played in the league such as Jose Canseco, Ruben Sierra, Tim Raines, Jose Lima, Rickey Henderson, Joe Borowski, Jose Offerman, Juan Gonzalez and more.

On to China

After finding out that he had been with the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League, I thought that was his last stop. I couldn't find anymore information, and thought maybe he went to another team or league. I also thought maybe he just stopped playing baseball altogether.

Then, I was looking up "Tony Fiore" to find pictures of him for this article. I found a picture of him, and clicked it to make it larger. When I clicked it, it went to a Chinese website, and it was the profile of Tony Fiore. It gave his whole background, as far as his MLB experience and his time in the Atlantic League.

It states that after the 2006 season with the Long Island Ducks, he signed with the La New Bears, a Chinese baseball team. Apparently, he signed with the team on August 29, 2006, and is still currently with the team in Taiwan.

In his first season with the team, his team lost the second Asian Baseball Championship.

SplitsWL

ERA

GSO
China234.13715

*Stats may be off because translator did not work correctly.

Played in the WBC
Something else that I found on the last site I was at, was that he played for Italian team in the first World Baseball Classic. His stats weren't all that good, and he went 0-1 in his one appearance.

SplitsWL

ERA

GGSIPHRERBBSO
WBC016.75112.254230

Summing It Up
So, after reading all of this, here is what has happened (in order) to Tony Fiore since leaving the Twins.

First, he was granted free agency by the the Twins after being sent down to AAA mid-way through the season and finishing the season there. He then signed with the Astros before again being granted free agency a year later. He signed with the Orioles and was with them on and off before one more time being granted free agency. He then signed with the Tigers, and played for their AAA team. He was released in the early summer of 2006.

After this, he gave up on the MLB and signed with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League on June 23, 2006. He played for them for the rest of that year.

When the Atlantic League season was over, he signed with the La New Bears of the Chinese Professional Baseball League on August 29, 2006, and is still with them today.

The Reason
The reason I decided to do this post was because I was looking through some Twins year books from the past seasons. I saw Tony Fiore in one of them, and couldn't help but wonder whatever happened to him.

I liked him when he played for the Twins, and I really liked the palmball he had. I also remembered wondering back then why he suddenly disappeared from the team. I thought others would be interested as well, and tried to find out where he was and put all of the information together.

While doing this, I learned a lot about this other league, and how many good players are actually in it. In fact, I found some Twins that have been in it in the past including Jose Offerman, Reuben Sierra and a current minor league player Brad King.