Edwin Fischer: The tennis champion and the Wall Street Bombing

In October 1872, Edwin Fischer was born to become a very successful American tennis player. However, he would go down in history for more peculiar -and somewhat dark- reasons.

Edwin Fischer’s tennis career

There is not much information about Edwin’s career out there, but we know he did win quite a few tournaments. He won the mixed doubles title four times at the US National Championships. In 1894, 95, and 96, he obtained the trophy alongside Juliette Atkinson, while in 1898, he repeated the achievement with Carrie Neely by his side.

In the men’s singles competitions, his best result was when he reached the semifinals in 1896, where he lost to Bill Larned. He did win the Tuxedo Tournament in New York in 1896 when he defeated champion Michael Chace.

His highest ranking in US Singles was number 5 in 1896, precisely the year he won the Tuxedo Tournament. He stayed in the top 10 for four years.

So, after a quite successful career, it was time for Edwin to retire, relax and enjoy his victories. He did so, until 1920.

Wall Street Bombing

On Thursday, September 16, 1920, at exactly 12:01 pm, trading stopped as a sudden explosion triggered in the Financial District on Manhattan. It was the Wall Street Bombing, a terrorist attack that took away the lives of 40 people and severely injured 143.

Investigators soon learned that Edwin Fischer had just warned his friends to stay away from Wall Street that day. He sent them postcards to inform them of an imminent bomb attack in the financial district and advised them to stay away from the area on September 16.

Investigation

One of the people Fischer warned was Captain Leonce Arnaud, of the French High Commission. In the letter Fischer sent him, it can be read that “There is a rumor that something is going to happen after 2:30 pm, around 3 to 4 pm[…] in the Wall Street district.” In the letter, Fischer advises Captain Arnaud to close the French High Commission earlier, just in case. Fischer does admit that “it may be all bull, but the world is a great place.”

An article published in the New York Times on September 18, 1920, mentions Fischer is believed to have warned a stranger in a train about the attack as well.

A man, named O’Neill, explains that another man, with similar features to Fischer, warned him to “keep away from Wall Street until after the 16th. They have 60,000 pounds of explosives and are going to blow it up.”

Furthermore, the man believed-to-be-Fischer mentioned he was “a secret service agent”, and that he was “engaged in running down anarchists”, about whom he knew a lot.

The police took Fischer into custody, where he wore a tennis outfit underneath his business suit “to be ready for a tennis match at all times”. The time had arrived for the police to question him. How did he know such exact information about the attack?

Fischer’s answer? He said he received the messages “through the air from God”.

Conclusions of the investigation

Police later learned that Fischer would regularly issue similar warnings and that it was well known among his friends that he was “a little light on the head”.

Captain Arnaud described Fischer as a “charming fellow”, but admitted he would occasionally be afflicted by a “periodical attack” of “irrational outbreaks”.

In the end, the police determined Edwin Fischer had no relation to the attack. They sent him to Amityville Asylum, where experts diagnosed him as ‘insane but harmless’.

What do you think? Do you find odd that Fischer happened to know about the attack with ridiculous precision, only by coincidence? There is certainly something dark behind this story.

If you’re interested in more dark stories from history, read our article about the serial killer’s head from 1800 that is still conserved in a jar to this day.

Originally published at https://funfactmania.com on October 28, 2020.

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I love fun facts and interesting stories. Anything that I can mention to start a conversation and avoid awkward silences, which I hate!

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Luis P

Luis P

I love fun facts and interesting stories. Anything that I can mention to start a conversation and avoid awkward silences, which I hate!

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