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Bill Harris (harribi03)

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William Thomas Harris

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Canadian-born Bill Harris signed as an amateur free agent with the Brooklyn Dodgers before the 1951 season. Like all good Canadian small-town boys of that era, he was also a hockey player. The 19-year-old diminutive righthander spent his initial season with the class D Valdosta Dodgers of the Georgia-Florida League winning 18 contests and losing 9 with a 2.19 ERA and also was selected for the All-Star team. Harris had as close to a career season as you can have in 1952 with the Miami Sun Sox of the Florida International League. He had a record of 25-6, including a dozen shutouts, as he completed 29 of his 32 starts while compiling an ERA of 0.83.

Harris came right back and on June 14, 1953, while with the Mobile Bears of the Southern Association, he threw a no-hitter against the future league champions, the Memphis Chicks, beating them 1-0 on his way to a 11-10 record. Bill kept right on winning games but the Brooklyn Dodgers didn't give him a call until some four years later. On September 27, 1957, Bill got his first chance to toe the rubber in a major league ballpark. Harris recalls his debut: "It was at Shibe Park against the Philadelphia Phillies and I did o.k. but lost 3-2. I was pinch-hit for in the 7th inning and Sandy Koufax came on in relief. Roy Campanella was the catcher and it turned out to be his last game."

1958 saw Bill back with the Montreal Royals where he went 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA and helped pitch them to the International League pennant. Harris pitched for Montreal again in 1959, going 12-12 with a 4.18 ERA and again got a late-season call from the Dodgers, who had by then relocated to Los Angeles. He made one relief appearance on September 26th in which he worked a pair of scoreless innings. This would be it for Bill in the majors and he closed out with a 0-1 record with a 3.12 ERA. That year the Dodgers went on to win the World Series, but Bill was not on the postseason roster.

Harris stayed on the mound through 1965, giving him 15 active seasons in pro baseball (1951-1965). He spent his last four years (1962-1965) in the Northwest League playing and coaching for the Tri-City Angels. When he finished there, he wound up with a 174-134 record with a 3.45 ERA while pitching 2,461 innings of minor league ball.

Harris remained in Kennewick, WA, where he owned the popular tavern, "Billy's Bullpen", for many years. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008 and died in 2011.

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Baseball Players of the 1950s

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