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Joe Harris (harrijo03)

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Joseph Harris

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 170 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

Joe Harris was a firstbaseman /outfielder for 22 years, two in semipro/town team ball (1910-1911); eight in the minors (1912-1916;1929-1931); three in independent "outlaw" ball (1919-1921) and ten in the Majors (1914;1917;1919;1922-1928); losing one year to the Military.

He was born on 20 May 1891 in Coulters PA. His father had immigrated from Staffordshire, England and his mother from Scotland. It is unknown where, or even if, he attended high school. A Coulter(s) local history publication says that the children of his father (whose name was also Joseph) worked in the local coal mine at age 12. If he did attend high school it would have been in Coulter(s) or in Meyersdale, PA. He and at least two of his siblings were playing baseball in Meyersdale when he was 17, and almost certainly were working in the mines there. Scouted by Charles "Pop" Kelchner, after playing for semipro and town teams (1910-1911), he broke into OB in 1912 at age 21 at about the same time as three of his brothers, when he played with McKeesport of the Ohio-Pennsylvania League (1912) and Bay City of the Southern Michigan League (1913-1914). At 23 years of age, he broke into the big leagues on 9 June 1914 with the New York Yankees and then returned to Bay City.

He played for the Chattanooga Lookouts in the Southern Association (1915-1916); and the Cleveland Indians (1917) when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1918, losing the entire season to Uncle Sam.

He served with the 80th Division, 320th Infantry. Sent to France, his wartime bunkmate was Johnny Miljus, with whom he would be together again as members of the Pittsburgh Pirates team in the 1927 World Series. The first major attack the U.S. Army made was in the Argonne Woods, north of Verdun, against an enemy well placed in defensive positions in the difficult terrain thick with forest and underbrush. Although the Americans attacked with great spirit, their assault ground to a halt, and they took heavy casualties. Harris and Miljus were both gassed and Miljus was bayoneted. Later he (Harris) suffered a cracked skull in a truck accident which apparently limited his play in 1919 and almost ended his baseball career. This caused a permanent injury around the eye that was cosmetically corrected between the 1925 and 1926 seasons. It is not known if this affected his vision nor which eye it was but it did provoke an unusual batting stance.

Mustered out as a Sergeant when the War was over (NP), he returned to the Indians and was in time to play 62 games for them in 1919. When the season was over, he played for an industrial team in Franklin PA. The Indians offered him $5,000.00 for 1920. So did the Franklin team in the Franklin Oil City League. They offered to set Harris up in business too. And he had become enthralled with a local girl in Franklin. Harris then stayed with Franklin for the 1920 season. Judge Landis promptly banned him from baseball for life for having "played with and against ineligible players in independent games". He stayed on with Frankin of the Two-Team League (1920-1921 and married Pearl Hepner of Franklin PA on 4 February 1921. When Franklin disbanded, he joined the Clearfield Terriers.

His application for reinstatement was then accepted by Landis, making him the first ballplayer to be reinstated after receiving a lifetime banishment. Landis mentioned, when he reinstated Harris to OB that he'd been through some bad experiences due to his war service -- perhaps (and this is purely conjecture) there were headaches associated with the skull injury. What Landis actually said was that the impact of the war on Harris -- who had reportedly been gassed during a battle -- caused him to make poor decisions. Harris then became the first player (we can only assume) who was pardoned on account of post traumatic stress disorder.

He played for the Boston Red Sox (1922-1925); Washington Senators (1925-1926); Pittsburgh Pirates (1927-1928); and Brooklyn Dodgers (1928), where he played his final MLB game on 25 September 1928 at age 37. He returned to the minors and played with the Sacramento Solons of the Pacific Coast League (1929); the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League (IL) (1930-1931); and the Buffalo Bisons of the IL (1931); ending his baseball career at age 40.

Harris playing for Washington

Harris batted over .300 each of his full seasons except his last. A starting outfielder for the Red Sox in 1922-23 before moving to first base in 1924, Harris was traded to Washington in 1925 and hit .323 to help the Senators to the pennant. He batted .440 with three homeruns, two doubles, six RBI and three two-hit games for a slugging average of .880 in the seven-game World Series loss to Pittsburgh. (ME)

In that same series, he became the first player to hit a homerun in his first WS at bat and, teamed with Goose Goslin, the first back-to-back homeruns in World Series play. He participated in two triple plays in his career, putting him on another short list. His .317 lifetime batting average places him at #62 all time, just below Roberto Clemente. And his .4044 lifetime on-base percentage places him #48 on that list, just below Arky Vaughan.

His best season was 1922 when he had 162 Hits, 28 Doubles, 11 Triples, 13 homeruns, 76 RBI and a Batting Average of .335 (.335/.400/.520). In the minors, it would be 1914, when he had 197 Hits, 135 Runs, 39 Doubles, 22 Triples, 10 homeruns, 42 Stolen bases and a Batting Average of .386 (.386/.472/.608).

In the Majors, he played 970 Games with 963 Hits, 201 Doubles, 64 Triples, 47 Homeruns, 517 RBI and a Batting Average of .317. In the Minors, he played 823 Games with 909 Hits, 174 Doubles, 88 Triples, 44 Homeruns, 99 Stolen Bases and a Batting Average of .322.

He retired to his billiard parlor/bowling alley. He had brown hair and grey eyes, his ancestry was Scotch-Irish and his principal hobby was hunting. He died at age 68 at his home in Renton, PA from emphysema on December 10, 1959 and is buried at Sunset Hill Memorial Gardens in Cranberry, PA.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • Led Ohio-Pennsylvania League first baseman in Fielding Percentage, 1912 (.992)
  • Led Southern Michigan League in Hits(197), Triples (22) and Batting Average (.386), 1914
  • Led Southern Association first baseman in Putouts (1,567), 1915 * Led Southern Association in Homeruns (9), 1916
  • First ballplayer to be reinstated after receiving a lifetime banishment.
  • First player to hit homerun in first World Series At Bat, 7 October 1925
  • First back-to-back homers in the World Series (with Goose Goslin), 11 October 1925
  • Hit over .300 in eight of his ten years, missing only his cup of coffee year (one game) and his final year (only 112 At Bats
  • Participated in two triple plays

[edit] Chronology

  • 1891: Born on 20 May 1891 in Coulters PA.
  • 1912: Broke into OB
  • 1914:
    • Sold by Bay City to New York
    • Broke into the big leagues on 9 June 1914 with the New York Yankees.
    • Returned to Bay City
  • 1918: Drafted into the U.S. Army. Mustered out as a Sergeant (and badly injured) when the War was over (NP)
  • 1919: On 10 July after a pinch hit triple with three on base to give Cleveland a 7-3 lead in the last of the eighth, reliever Elmer Myers gives up a run, then loads the bases on walks. In comes little-used lefty Fritz Coumbe. Up steps Babe Ruth who hit his second HR of the day for an 8-7 Red Sox win. Out goes Indians' manager Lee Fohl, fired for the move. In comes center fielder Tris Speaker to manage the Tribe. He will bring them home in second place and stay as skipper for seven years.
  • 1920:
    • The Indians offered him $5,000.00 for 1920. So did the Franklin team in the Franklin Oil City League. They set Harris up in business too.
    • Banned from baseball by Judge Landis for having "played with and against ineligible players in independent games".
  • 1921:
    • Married Pearl Hepner of Franklin PA m.4 February
    • On 24 December traded by the Cleveland Indians with George Burns and

Elmer Smith to the Boston Red Sox for Stuffy McInnis.

  • 1922: On 4 February Reinstated by Judge Landis because of his good war record. "His service in France, where he was gassed after bitter fighting, caused him to do things he might not have done," says Judge Landis in reinstating him.
  • 1925:
    • On 26 April, traded by the Boston Red Sox to the Washington Senators for Paul Zahniser and Roy Carlyle. * 1927: On 4, selected off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Washington Senators.
    • On 7 October, Harris leads off the game with a homerun as Walter Johnson (20-7) opens the World Series in Pittsburgh. A 5th-inning home run by Pie Traynor is the only damaging blow, as Johnson fans 10 of the heavy-hitting Bucs for a 4–1 win over Lee Meadows (19-10). Sam Rice, Harris, and Ossie Bluege, with two hits each, drive in the Senators' runs.
    • On 10 October for game three it's clear but bitterly cold in Washington following a rainstorm that caused the game to be rescheduled. President Calvin Coolidge throws out the first ball. The Pirates hold a slim 3–2 lead after six innings. A walk and two singles score two in the eighth for Washington, and Firpo Marberry (8-6) closes it. Harris has two hits for the third time; he'll lead the Senators with .440.
    • On 11 October before a home crowd of 36,000, Walter Johnson wins his third straight World Series contest over two years. He blanks the Bucs on six hits, only two out of the infield, but fans only two. A three-run home run by Goose Goslin in the fourth followed by Harris's round-tripper –the first back-to-back home runs in World Series history— give the Senators a 4–0 win and 3–1 Series advantage.
    • On 12 October in game five, Stan Coveleski goes out to finish off the Pirates, but a lapse of control costs him two in the third. Harris's third homerun ties it in the fourth. In the seventh, a walk and three hits net two runs and drive Coveleski off the mound. The Pirates' 13-hit attack produces a 6–3 win.
    • Permanent injury around the eye was cosmetically corrected between the 1925 and 1926 seasons.
  • 1927: On 31 May, led by Harris, the Pirates score nine runs in the last four innings to beat the Cubs, 10–9. Harris has five hits, including a double and two triples, for the first place Pirates.
  • 1928:
    • On 8 June, the Pirates trade Joe Harris and Johnny Gooch to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Charlie Hargreaves.
    • Played his final MLB game on 25 September
  • 1931: Ended his baseball career with the Buffalo Bisons.

[edit] Sources

Principal sources for Joe Harris (harrijo03) include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs {{{WW}}} (WW), old Baseball Registers {{{BR}}} (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN {{{DAG}}} (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) {{{MORE}}} and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others. including The Historical Register, compiled by Bob Hoie & Carlos Bauer

[edit] Family

Harris was related to a number of professional ballplayers. The currently known list is:

For a more complete story, see The Joe Harris Family by Bob Harris

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