Vic Harris
Vic Harris 1931.jpg
Outfielder / Manager
Born: (1905-06-10)June 10, 1905
Pensacola, Florida
Died: February 23, 1978(1978-02-23) (aged 72)[1]
San Fernando, California
Batted: Left
Threw: Right
debut
1922, for the Pittsburgh Keystones
Last appearance
1947, for the Homestead Grays
Negro league statistics
Batting average.305
Home runs30
Hits733
Runs scored478
Runs batted in401
Managerial record547–278–2
Winning percentage.663
Teams
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

Elander Victor Harris (June 10, 1905 – February 23, 1978)[1] was an American professional baseball outfielder and manager in the Negro leagues. Listed at 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m), 168 lb., Harris batted left-handed and threw right-handed.

Nicknamed "Vicious Vic", he was noted as one of the toughest players of his era in black baseball; Harris managed the Grays to first place in the Negro National League eight times (most for any manager in the Negro leagues) along with a Negro World Series title while being named to the East–West All-Star Game seven times.[3]

Career

A native of Pensacola, Florida, Harris was the brother of fellow Negro leaguer Neal Harris. He moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1914 and played baseball at the local YMCA. Harris started his professional career shortly after his 18th birthday, playing two games for the Pittsburgh Keystones in 1922[4] before moving to the Cleveland Tate Stars in 1923 and the Cleveland Browns in 1924,[2] before start a long association with the Homestead Grays in 1925 which lasted 23 years. At this time, Homestead were not a member of any established league as the team rarely played other top black squads in those years and so statistics are limited, but when the Grays did, they often showed themselves to be a superior team.

When Homestead joined the Eastern Colored League in 1928, Harris hit an anemic .204 average before the league folded, but he improved significantly in 1929, batting .350 in the high-offense American Negro League. In 1933 he hit .321 with Homestead, and .384 for the 1934 Pittsburgh Crawfords. The 1935 season brought Harris back to Homestead. He hit .342, as his eight home runs tied for fifth in the league and were even with Hall of Fame slugger Turkey Stearnes. A year later, he hit .315. In 1938, when Homestead dominated the league and won the first half with an .813 winning percentage, Harris led his team with a .380 batting average.

Harris managed the Grays during their years in league play, between 1935 and 1948, and piloted Homestead to eight pennants. He guided his team to six consecutive first-place finishes from 1937 through 1942 (with five pennants). He took a job with a defense plant after the 1942 season, for which he would play for the Grays when he could do so while Candy Jim Taylor stepped in to manage the team for the next two seasons (each resulted in Negro World Series championships); Harris went 4-for-28 in the 1943 Negro World Series while not playing in the latter.[5]

He also played in six East-West All-Star games between 1933 and 1947, and managed the East team eight times, four more than Oscar Charleston, the next-most-frequent manager. He won the last held Negro World Series in 1948 as the Grays left the league not long after.

In the waning days of the Negro leagues, Harris coached for the 1949 Baltimore Elite Giants and managed the 1950 Birmingham Black Barons.[6] Additionally, he played winter baseball in the Cuban League and managed Santurce in the Puerto Rican League from 1947 to 1950.

Available statistics indicate that Harris hit .305 (733 for 2,406), and his teams posted a 547–278–2 mark in organized league play (with undoubtedly a higher total if one takes independent play into account) and a 10–15 mark during post-season play. An excellent motivator, he was well liked and respected by his players.

Post-career and death

After post-integration, he served as coach of the 1949 Baltimore Elite Giants, he took one last managerial job with the Birmingham Black Barons in 1950 before he retired. He became the head custodian for the Castaic Union Schools in Castaic, California. He died at the age of 72 in San Fernando, California, from the after-effects of surgery for treatment of cancer.[7][1] He was survived by his wife Dorothy and two children, Judith and Ronald.

Legacy

With a winning percentage of 547–278 (.663), Harris has the highest percentage among managers who managed at least 500 games in baseball (only Bullet Rogan, who won 257 in 369 games, has a higher percentage than Harris in total history), and only nine other managers have won over sixty percent of their games as of 2021. Harris has the most league pennants of any manager in Negro league baseball with seven. Just five other managers in baseball history have won seven pennants.[8] Despite this, he has not been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was considered in the 2006 Hall of Fame balloting, but he was not selected. On November 5, 2021, he was selected to the final ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame's Early Days Committee for consideration in the Class of 2022. He received ten of the necessary twelve votes.[9]

Managerial record

Team Year Regular season Postseason
Games Won Lost Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
WAS 1936 59 31 27 .534 3rd in NNL2
WAS 1937 80 60 19 .759 1st in NNL2
WAS 1938 70 56 14 .800 1st in NNL2
WAS 1939 60 38 21 .644 1st in NNL2 4 5 .444 Lost Championship Series (BAL)
WAS 1940 62 42 20 .677 1st in NNL2
WAS 1941 77 51 24 .680 1st in NNL2 3 1 .750 Won Championship Series (NYC)
WAS 1942 90 64 23 .736 1st in NNL2 0 4 .000 Lost Negro World Series (KC)
WAS 1945 76 47 26 .644 1st in NNL2 0 4 .000 Lost Negro World Series (CLE)
WAS 1946 86 45 38 .542 3rd in NNL2
WAS 1947 103 57 42 .576 4th in NNL2
WAS 1948 82 56 24 .700 1st in NNL2 6 2 .750 Won Negro World Series (BIR)
Total 845[a] 547 278 .663 13 16 .448

References

  1. ^ a b c "Vic Harris - Seamheads.com Negro Leagues Database". Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b "19240726ClevelandGazette.pdf - Google Drive". docs.google.com. 24 July 1934. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Negro Leagues Baseball eMuseum: Personal Profiles: Vic Harris".
  4. ^ "1922 Pittsburgh Keystones Statistics".
  5. ^ "2022 Early Baseball Era Committee Candidate: Vic Harris". 4 December 2021.
  6. ^ "All Time Negro League Managers" (PDF). cnlbr.org. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  7. ^ "Vic Harris – Society for American Baseball Research".
  8. ^ "Major League Managers | Baseball-Reference.com".
  9. ^ "Fowler, Hodges, Kaat, Miñoso, Oliva, O'Neil Elected to Hall of Fame". baseballhall.org. December 5, 2021. Retrieved December 5, 2021.

Notes

  1. ^ Harris also managed in twenty games that ended in ties

Sources