ST. GEORGE — Nobody's picking on "Little Tyson" anymore.
Dixie High's Tyson Fisher, the 2018 Deseret News Mr. Baseball winner, got picked on a lot when he was young. After being bitten by a neighbor's Rottweiler when he was four-years-old, Fisher underwent several hours of surgery on his face (with nearly 200 stitches to show for it). The resulting scar made him an easy target by bullies when he started school.
"Yeah, I got bullied a lot," he said. "Kids can be that way. When I got bit, I didn't even cry until my mom told me we had to go to the hospital, that a Band-Aid wouldn't fix it. The crying came later."
Now that he's fully grown, the six-inch scar on his face makes Fisher look more like a war hero or a video game protagonist and his physical stature and athletic prowess send many would-be bullies back into hiding. But Fisher never forgot those early days.
"I try to stick up for the little guy now," he said. "I know what it's like to be made fun of and it makes me upset when it happens to other people. We all deserve to be treated the same, whether we're an athlete or a 4.0 student or just a regular person who hits ninth in the lineup. We can all contribute in our own way."
Fisher's senior year reads like a high school record book. He hit .512 in 2018, with 33 RBIs and an astounding on-base percentage of .618. His nine home runs tied for tops in Utah and his .975 slugging percentage is stratospheric.
And as good as those numbers are, he was perhaps even better on the mound. Fisher went 8-1 on the year with an earned run average of 0.82. He struck out 94 batters in 60 innings, walking just 18. In fact, he drew more walks as a batter (24) than he surrendered as a pitcher.
"Tyson has been our fire this year," Dixie coach Danny Ipson said. "What he does at the plate is amazing. Opponents always know that he's going to hit it hard. And as a pitcher, he just battles. There was some debate as to who we would start (in the championship game), but in the end, we felt like Tyson would give us the best chance to win."
The coach was right as Fisher pitched a masterpiece against Desert Hills in the 4A title game. He allowed four hits and two walks while shutting out the Thunder in the 1-0 complete-game victory.
"I wasn't 100 percent, my arm was dragging a bit," Fisher said. "There was a lot of pressure because their guy (Dallen Turner) was putting up zeroes. Every zero he put up, I had to match it. But I had faith our offense would come through."
Dixie won the game on a suicide squeeze bunt by Kayler Yates that scored Fisher's best friend, outfielder Blake Oaks. Fisher was in the on-deck circle when the winning squeeze play happened.
"Blake said he thought I was going to eat him when I came running out there," Fisher said. "But it was a perfect ending to another amazing season. I got to pitch for the state championship. It's what I always dreamed of."
Well, maybe not always.
"He didn't even play baseball before he was 10," Tyson's mom, Shari said. "Football was his first love. He thought baseball was too slow and boring."
A trip to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame when he was 12 helped change Fisher's mind about America's Pastime.
"I was there with my friends and the Dixie Indians club team and I just absolutely fell in love with baseball," Fisher said. "That's when baseball became huge for me."
With back-to-back state titles under his belt and a scholarship to play at Dixie State next year, Fisher said he doesn't have many regrets.
"I wish we could have won it my sophomore year, with that great group of seniors we had, but I'm very satisfied," he said. "Baseball in high school has been perfect. I love my teammates and coaches and have no regrets at all."8 comments on this story
The future is approaching fast for Fisher, who graduated from Dixie High in May and will begin classes in the fall at DSU.
"My short-term goal is to work hard and be a starter for Dixie State next year and have a good season," he said. "My long-term goal is to make it to the MLB. I want to play baseball for a living."
Whether that's as a pitcher or as a hitter remains to be seen, but he will be easily recognizable as the 6-foot-5 man who wears his scars proudly and sticks up for the little guy.