Harris hired as new Blue Crabs manager
Played briefly in the major leagues
Roughly 40 years after making his major league baseball debut with the California Angels, John Harris will extend his coaching career with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs next season as the team’s newest manager.
Harris, who spent last season as the director of player procurement for the Trois-Rivieres Aigles of the Cana- dian-American Association, is eager to get back onto the field next spring. Harris played with the Angels from 1979 to 1981, concluding his career with 31 hits from 120 at-bats, including five home runs.
“I spent last season inside in the front office and I’ll be glad to get back on the field,” said Harris, who plans to spend the next month in Shreveport, La., before relocating to Charles County in January. “After one year inside, I can’t wait to get back in the dugout. We’ll have a different look next season. I plan to make a lot of changes.”
Harris will handle the hitting and defensive responsibilities for the Blue Crabs, who went 57-83 overall and failed to make the playoffs last season under first-year skipper Jeremy Owens, who was not retained for a second year. James Frisbie, the manager of a Texas team last season in the American Association, will be the Blue Crabs’ pitching coach.
Harris has held a number of coaching jobs since his playing days ended after the 1981 season with the Angels, including four previous stints as a
manager with various in- dependent teams in the American Association. He also gained some fa- miliarity with the Blue Crabs while serving as the hitting instructor with the Atlantic League rival Bridgeport Bluefish in 2015.
“I really think there’s some talent there,” Har- ris said of the Blue Crabs roster. “I had a chance to see them quite a bit in 2015 when I was with Bridgeport. They had a really solid team that year. I’m excited about having the chance to manage the club. I like being involved in the independent leagues and I’ve known Stan and Butch a long time.”
Harris also quickly recalls his brief time in the major leagues when
he was a member of a talented California Angels squad that won the American League West in 1979, only to be eliminated by the Bal- timore Orioles in four games in the American League Championship Series. Among others, that squad included future Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Nolan Ryan, while Don Baylor, a long- time Orioles player, was the AL Most Valuable
Player that season.
“That was a great experience,” said Harris, who hit his first major league homer in 1980 off Tex- as Rangers pitcher John Butcher. “That team was loaded with free agent talent and Hall of Fam- ers. Every kid dreams about getting to the major leagues someday. I still remember my first home run like it was yesterday. [Butcher] hung me a slider and I got ahold of it.”
Harris was born in Port- land, Ore., but he spent much of his youth in New Mexico and eventually played college baseball for Lubbock Christian University in Texas and was eventually drafted in the 26th round of the 1976 MLB amateur draft by the Angels. He made his major league debut with California on Sept. 26, 1979, going hitless in two at-bats.
“We are excited to have John join the Blue Crabs this year,” said Blue Crabs general manager Courtney Knichel in a team news release Thursday announcing Harris’ hiring. “He has a very deep knowledge of baseball and has a great eye for talent. We want to make our 10th anniversary season on the field and we think John will help us accomplish this goal.”