Har­ris hired as new Blue Crabs man­ager

Played briefly in the ma­jor leagues

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

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.”

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