Nov 19, 2014

Early Eighties Mets Pitcher: Greg Harris (1981)

Greg Allen Harris was born on November 2nd, 1955 in Lynwood California. The six foot right handed pitcher was signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1976. Harris was actually a switch thrower if there is a such thing, as he could pitch both right handed & left handed.

He pitched at both A ball Lynchburg & AA Jackson in 1978 going 8-9 with a 2.16 ERA. By 1980 he was promoted to AAA Tidewater after a nine win season at Jackson. He was 2-9 there but improved to 4-0 with a 2.06 ERA in 1981. The Mets were always looking for something positive in those days & brought him up to the big league club.

Harris made his MLB debut on May 20th at Candlestick Park, pitching six solid innings allowing two runs, earning no decision in a 4-3 Mets win. His next start came at Shea Stadium where he beat the Philadelphia Phillies. Harris was 2-1 in June & then was sent back to AAA Tidewater returning in August. Upon his return he was put in a relief appearance where he earned a save at Wrigley Field. He lost three straight decisions that month ending with an ERA up near five.

On September 4th Harris pitched seven innings allowing just one run, earning a win against the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium. On September 21st he pitched a season best eight innings allowing two runs but earned another no decision in a 4-3 Mets win.

On the year in 16 games he was 3-5 with a 4.46 ERA, striking out 54 batters in 68 innings. In February 1982 Harris, Alex Trevino & Jim Kern were traded to the Cincinnati Reds for George Foster. Although Foster was never the super star he was in his Big Red Machine hey days, it must be noted that his arrival was the beginning of the Mets turn around to being a contender two years later.

Harris pitched two years in Cincinnati (1982-1983) the spent 1984 in Montreal & San Diego. He pitched in Texas (1985-1987) having a big season in 1986. He saved 20 games that year (6th in the AL) winning ten games going 10-8 with a 2.83 ERA. From there Harris went to the Philadelphia Phillies (1988-1989) getting put on waivers where he was picked up by the Boston Red Sox.

When he arrived in Boston the ambidextrous pitcher had a special glove made where he could switch from righty to lefty. The Red Sox were not happy about his versatility & banned him from making the cross over. Harris pitched six years in Boston, winning a career high 13 games (13-9) in 1990 when he was back in a starting role.

He made the transition from a starter to a middle reliever by 1990, leading the league with 80 appearances in 1993, earning eight saves. After finishing the 1994 season with the AL New York team, he pitched his final year with the Montreal Expos.

On September 28, 1995 his dream came true as he got to pitch both right handed & left handed finishing off a game against the Cincinnati Reds. On the season he appeared in 45 games going 2-3.

In his 15 year career Harris was 74-90 with a 3.69 ERA. He saved 54 games striking out 1141 batters walking 652 in 1467 innings in 703 appearances. In seven of his fifteen seasons he posted ERAs below the three mark.

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