Friday, September 27, 2013

#78 Greg (A.) Harris

About the Front: For several years running, Greg Harris was baseball's foremost "Weird Al" Yankovic lookalike.

About the Back: "Straight Outta Lynwood", released in 2006, was Weird Al's first-ever Billboard top ten album. Harris, as you can see, was born in Lynwood on November 2, making him a Scorpio. Yankovic was born October 23, making him...a Scorpio. The plot thickens.

Triple Play:

1. Greg tossed 5.1 innings of relief in Game 3 of the 1984 World Series and was charged with no earned runs. He entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the third inning and the Padres trailing the Tigers 4-1. His second pitch hit Kirk Gibson to force in a run, but he retired Lance Parrish on a liner to center field to strand three runners. The San Diego bats could not rally, and the Friars lost 5-2.

2. Harris is famously the only pitcher in big league history to throw both righty and lefty in a game. The natural righty was ambidextrous, and wore a custom either-handed glove on the mound to tweak former Red Sox GM Lou Gorman, who had shot down the idea of his pitcher delivering from both sides of the mound in a game situation. It wasn't until September 28, 1995, in the penultimate game of Harris' career, that he was permitted to perform the unique stunt in a game that counted. The then-Expos pitcher started the ninth inning tossing righty, retiring Reggie Sanders of the Reds on a grounder to shortstop. He switched arms and walked Hal Morris, then got Eddie Taubensee on a dribbler that was handled by the catcher. Finally he flip-flopped once again and put down Bret Boone with a comebacker.

3. Relieving seemed to suit Greg more than starting. In 98 starts, he posted a 4.44 ERA and 6.2 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. In 605 relief appearances, his ERA was 3.24 and his K/9 was 7.5.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: The Gregs Harris were my first lesson in homonymous ballplayers. This is Greg Allen Harris; we'll meet Padres righty Gregory Wade Harris later on in the set. Topps could've added their respective middle initials and cleared up some of the headache.

Bill James Said: "He pitched OK overall, but attempted to move into the closer role while Russell was out with an ankle injury, and that went very badly." Harris blew a staggering 10 saves in 1993 and saved his worst for the stretch run, going 0-3 with a 9.50 ERA (19 ER in 18 IP) after September 1 to inflate his overall ERA from 2.67 to 3.77. He was 4-for-8 in save situations during that span.

On This Date in 1993: September 27. Randy Myers finishes the Cubs' 7-3 win over the Dodgers with 1.1 perfect innings to become the first-ever National League pitcher with a 50-save season. He will finish with 53 saves, thanks in part to a season-ending streak of 18 straight successful saves (1.86 ERA, 23-3 K/BB in that span).


  1. Four 19th-century pitchers are known to have thrown with both hands: Tony Mullane in 1882 and in 1893, Elton Chamberlain in 1888, Larry Corcoran in 1884, and George Wheeler. So he is the only modern pitcher to ever switch pitch.

  2. Whoops! Thanks for setting me straight, Max.