Jul 2, 2015

Late Sixties Mets Pitcher Hal Reniff (1967) & His Great Uncle Joe "Moon" Harris (1914-1928)

Harold Eugene Reniff Harold Eugene Reniff was born on July 2, 1938 in Warren, Ohio. The six foot right handed pitcher, known as “Porky”, was signed by the A.L. New York team in 1956.

In 1959 he led the Carolina League with 21 wins, going 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA. He made his MLB debut two years later in June 1961, in a game against the Kansas City A's. He pitched in relief earning his first save on August 2nd also against the A's. Overall in 25 appearances he was 2-0 with a pair of saves & a 2.58 ERA.

He went back & forth to the minors over his first two seasons, arriving for good by 1963. That year he saved a career high 18 games (6th in the A.L.) going 4-3 posting a 2.62 ERA in 48 appearances. He would save nine games twice over the next three years, winning a career high six games (6-4) in 1964. 
In his career he pitched in four World Series games, over the 1963 & 1964 seasons, earning no decisions over four scoreless innings. In June of 1967 Reniff’s contract was purchased by the cross town New York Mets.

He arrived at Shea Stadium on July 1st and won his first game, pitching three innings of scoreless relief against the St. Louis Cardinals. The next day he relieved Donnie Shaw in the first game of a double header, in the 9th inning of a 1-1 tie against the same Cardinals.

Reniff threw a wild pitch putting the winning run on third base, but then he got Mike Shannon to strike out looking to end the inning. In the bottom of the 9th, Bud Harrelson scored the winning run on St. Louis pitcher Nelson Briles wild pitch, giving Reniff his second win in only two days of being a Met.

Reniff would win just one more game & it came the following week. He he saved four more games through July 19th. He then suffed three losing decisions, before the end of the year. In 1967 as a Met, he went 3-3 with two saves, posting a 3.35 ERA in 29 appearances. That October he was released, finishing his seven year career at 21-23 with 45 saves, 314 strike outs 242 walks and a 3.27 ERA in 276 appearances. 

Reniff is the only pitcher to ever have played for the two current New York teams, without having played for any other MLB teams. Hal Reniff passed away in September of 2004, in Ontario Canada at the age of 68. 

Joe "Moon" Harris
His great uncle was Joe “Moon” Harris who played 22 MLB seasons from 1914-1928. In his ten year career he batted .317 with 47 HRs 210 doubles 64 triples 517 RBIs & a .404 on base %. 

He played for seven different teams, New York (1914) Cleveland (1917/1919) Boston Red Sox (1922-1925) Washington Senators (1925-1926) Pittsburgh Pirates (1927-1928) & finishing his career with the Brooklyn Robins (1928).

In Washington he helped the Senators to a pennant batting .323 (ninth in the AL) with 13 HRs (8th in the AL) & a .520 slugging % (5th in the AL). He had a big World Series where he hit three HRs drove in six runs & batted .440 in a seven game loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

He got to another World Series while playing for the Pirates in 1927 & hit .200 (3-15) in four games.

In 1918 Moon Harris did not play in baseball as he served in the United States Army during World War I. He was stationed in France with Johnny Miljus his future team mate in Pittsburgh, and was involved in a major battle in Argonne France, where his company suffered heavy casualties. He & Miljus were both gassed, with Miljus getting bayoneted & Harris suffering a cracked skull which almost ruined his baseball career.

In 1922 Harris, was banned from major league baseball by Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis for having "played with & against ineligible players in independent games". 

He ended up resigning from the game but then Landis reinstated him upon request, due to the fact he was suffering headaches from a casualty of war. After baseball he ran a billiards hall in Renton Pennsylvania. He passed away at age 68 in December 1959.

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