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Bucky Harris

Bucky Harris

Position(s):
2B, SS, 3B, OF
Born:
November 8, 1896
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
5' 9"
Weight:
156 lbs
Major League Debut:
8-28-1919 with WS1
Hall of Fame:
1975

Bucky Harris

"First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League," ran the old saw about Washington, but in 1924 the perennial AL tail-ender Senators were World Champions. In his first season at the helm was 27-year-old Bucky Harris, the youngest regular ML manager and the team's second baseman. Washington's rugged "Boy Manager" led by example and earned the respect of such veterans as Walter Johnson, Sam Rice, and Roger Peckinpaugh. Only Connie Mack managed more games than Bucky Harris.

In the 1924 World Series against the Giants, Harris batted .333 and hit two home runs. He also set records for chances accepted, double plays, and putouts in the exciting seven-game affair. His base hit in the eighth inning of the deciding contest tied the score, and the Senators rallied in the twelfth to clinch Washington's one and only World Championship. It was in that contest that Harris the manager won acclaim. His strategy of replacing righthanded starter Curly Ogden with lefthander George Mogridge after only two batters forced the Giants' hard-hitting Bill Terry out of the lineup.

Biography:Harris was born in Port Jervis, New York and Harris learned baseball in the mining region of northeastern Pennsylvania. After leaving school at 13, he worked in a local colliery. Hughie Jennings, another future Hall of Famer from Harris's home town of Pittston, arranged for the scrappy youngster's first job in pro ball, in 1915. Harris reached the majors in 1919.

In 1919, at the age of 22, he came up to the Washington Senators, where his initial performance was unimpressive. Harris' batting average was a meager .214, and he participated in only eight games in his first season. Despite this poor showing, club owner Clark Griffith made him Washington's regular second baseman in 1920, and before long, Harris was batting .300, while distinguishing himself as a tough competitor. The young player stood up even to the ferocious Ty Cobb, who threatened Harris when he tagged Cobb in their first encounter.

An exceptional fielder, he topped AL second basemen in putouts four times and in double plays a record five straight times (1921-25). Harris had a knack for being hit by pitches. An outstanding basketball player, he played professionally with local Pennsylvania teams during the off-season, until concerned Washington officials ordered him to cease.

One of baseball's "boy managers", Harris both played for and managed the Senators beginning in 1924. At the age of 27, he was the youngest regular major league manager, also serving as the team's second baseman. Harris directed the team to a World Series Championship in his rookie season and the AL pennant the following year. Baseball historian William C. Kashatus noted that, during the 1924 World Series, Harris excelled as a player. "Not only did he set records for chances accepted, double plays and put-outs in the exciting seven-game affair, but he batted .333 and hit two home runs"Under Harris, the Senators repeated as AL champs in 1925, but lost a hard-fought seven-game Series to the Pirates.

After suffering his first losing season in 1928, After leaving the Senators initially in 1928 (he would twice return to manage them again from 1935–42 and from 1950–54), Harris was traded to the Detroit Tigers as player-manager. His playing career essentially ended in 1928, though he had a few cameo appearances with the Tigers in 1929 and 1931. He managed the Tigers twice (1929–33, 1955–56), Boston Red Sox (1934), Philadelphia Phillies (briefly known as the Blue Jays, 1943), and the 1947 World Champion New York Yankees. He closed his 29-year managing career with the 1956 Tigers. Despite the many losing campaigns, Harris was regarded as a knowledgeable manager and was extremely popular with his players. His patient, gentlemanly manner inspired such loyalty that when the Phillies fired Harris in mid-1943, his players threatened to strike.

He rejoined the Red Sox as assistant general manager in 1957–58. He succeeded Joe Cronin as Boston's GM in January 1959 and served two seasons in that post before his release in September 1960. On his watch, however, the Red Sox finally broke the baseball color line by promoting Pumpsie Green from Triple-A on July 21, 1959. Late in his career, Harris was a scout for the Chicago White Sox and special assistant for the expansion Washington franchise that existed from 1961–71.

Bucky Harris died in Bethesda, Maryland, on his 81st birthday, and was buried at Saint Peter's Lutheran Church (in Hughestown, Pennsylvania). Bucky Harris, Gabby Hartnett and Joe Tinker, are the only Hall of Famers who died on their birthdays.

During his 29-season managerial career, Harris presided over two world championships and three pennants. He is sixth in MLB manager career wins with 2,157 wins to his name.

Harris is mentioned in a version of Abbott & Costello's famous Who's on First? routine.

Harris, remains the youngest man to lead a major league team to a World Series victory, was elected, as a manager, to the Hall of Fame in 1975 by the Veterans Committee.

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