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Tommy Harper
Tommy Harper 1963.png
Harper in 1963.
Outfielder / Third baseman
Born: (1940-10-14) October 14, 1940 (age 74)
Oak Grove, Louisiana
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 9, 1962 for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1976 for the Baltimore Orioles
Career statistics
Batting average .257
Home runs 146
Runs batted in 567
Stolen bases 408
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Tommy Harper (born October 14, 1940 in Oak Grove, Louisiana) is an American former Major League Baseball outfielder and third baseman. He played with the Cincinnati Reds (1962–67), Cleveland Indians (1968), Seattle Pilots (1969), Milwaukee Brewers (1970–71), Boston Red Sox (1972–74), California Angels (1975), Oakland Athletics (1975), and the Baltimore Orioles (1976).

High School and College[edit]

Harper played at Encinal High School in Alameda, California, where his teammates included Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Stargell and MLB player Curt Motton. He starred collegiately for San Francisco State University.

Cincinnati Reds[edit]

Harper signed as an amateur free agent with the Reds before the 1960 season (as Major League Baseball had yet to institute a draft) and was assigned to Class B Topeka, where he had modest success. After hitting .324 for Topeka the following season, he was promoted all the way up to AAA San Diego where he hit .333 with 24 home runs and was even called up to the major league club, where he started 6 games at third base.

In the 1963–64 seasons, Harper was a platoon player for the Reds, working mostly as an outfielder. 1965 was his breakout season, as he became the Reds' starting left fielder and leadoff hitter, hitting 18 home runs, stealing 35 bases, and leading the National League with 126 runs scored. He would occupy the leadoff role for the next 3 seasons for the Reds, starting at all three outfield positions and serving as backup infielder until being traded to the Indians for 3 players following the 1967 season.

Cleveland Indians[edit]

Harper played only one season with the Indians, starting mostly in left and right field and seeing playing time at center field and second base as well. Although he struggled both with the bat and on the basepaths, he was drafted by the Seattle Pilots as the 3rd pick in the 1968 expansion draft.

Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers[edit]

Harper was the first player to come to bat in Seattle Pilots history when he led off the top of the 1st against right-hander Jim McGlothlin of the California Angels. In that inaugural at bat, he was also the first Pilots player to record a hit, doubling to left field, and then scoring the Pilots first run on a home run by Mike Hegan. Harper led the American League with a career-high 73 stolen bases—the most by an American Leaguer since Ty Cobb's 96 in 1915 and a mark that still stands today as a Pilots/Brewers record. He also showed his versatility in the field, making over 50 starts at both second and third base, 21 starts in center field, and also seeing playing time at both corner outfield positions.

When the Pilots moved to Milwaukee and changed names the following season, Harper was also the first player to come to bat in Milwaukee Brewers history. On April 7, 1970, he led off the bottom of the 1st against California Angels right-hander Andy Messersmith. He hit a ground ball to third baseman Aurelio Rodríguez, who threw to first baseman Jim Spencer for the out. The 1970 season was probably the best statistically in Harper's career. He recorded career highs in hits, doubles, home runs, and RBIs on his way to the lone All-Star game appearance of his career. He also became the first Brewer, and just the fifth major leaguer at that point, to join the 30-30 club by hitting 31 home runs and stealing 38 bases and come in 6th in the AL MVP voting. A second Brewer didn't join him in the 30–30 club until Ryan Braun accomplished the feat in 2011.[1] After his numbers fell off during the 1971 season, Harper was traded to the Red Sox as part of a 10-player trade following the season.

Boston Red Sox[edit]

Harper became the Sox' starting center fielder and leadoff hitter from 1972–74, playing well enough to earn him votes in the AL MVP balloting in '72 and '73. 1973 was his best season with the club, as he led the league in stolen bases for the second time in his career, setting an all-time Red Sox mark with 54, until Jacoby Ellsbury broke the record on August 25, 2009. After the 1974 season, at age 34 and appearing to be in decline, he was traded to the California Angels for journeyman infielder Bob Heise.

California Angels[edit]

Harper played only part of the 1975 season for California. The Angels, well on their way to a last-place division finish, sold him for cash to the contending Oakland A's.

Oakland A's[edit]

Revitalized by the trade to a contender, Harper hit .319 in August and September for the A's and became their starting 1st baseman, also seeing spot duty in the outfield and at third base. Harper was also a perfect 7 of 7 in stolen base attempts. Harper was a key in Oakland's AL West championship drive not only because of his help with the bat, but also because his versatile fielding allowed the As to use the aging Billy Williams at DH where his still powerful bat was useful and where his play in the field was not a liability.

Harper finally saw his first playoff action at age 34 after 14 major league seasons but would be limited to one plate appearance, a walk, as the A's were swept by his old team, the Red Sox. Harper was released by the A's after the season.

Baltimore Orioles[edit]

Harper signed with the Orioles shortly before 1976 spring training. He played sparingly at DH, but his trademark blend of power and speed were gone, rendering him mostly a light-hitting pinch hitter. He was released by the Orioles following the season.

Coaching career[edit]

Harper served as a coach for the Red Sox (1980–84; 2000–02) and the Montreal Expos (1990–99). As of the start of the 2013 season, he remained with Boston as a player development consultant. Ironically, Harper had successfully sued the Red Sox for firing him in 1985 for complaining in the media about the club allowing the segregated Elks Club in its spring training base of Winter Haven, Florida, to invite only the team's white personnel to its establishment.[2] Harper was elected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2010.

Highlights[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joe Kay (September 16, 2011). "Braun reached 30–30, Brewers beat Reds 6–3". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  2. ^ Bryant, Howard, Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Johnny Pesky
Dave Jauss
Red Sox First Base Coach
1980–1984
2000–2002
Succeeded by
Joe Morgan
Dallas Williams

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Harper — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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557 news items

Deadline

Deadline
Tue, 14 Apr 2015 10:45:48 -0700

J.J. Abrams continues to overhaul his Bad Robot Productions. He has tapped Tommy Harper to join as COO, a new position. Harper will oversee Bad Robot's daily operations and report to Abrams, collaborating with Abrams on identifying and creating ...

Boston Globe

Boston Globe
Sat, 20 Sep 2014 17:56:15 -0700

For decades, Tommy Harper encountered strangers eager to share their Red Sox memories: their first games with their fathers, their first awed glimpses of Fenway in green, their farewells to Ted and Yaz. Harper listened patiently, even when the stories ...

Boston Globe (subscription)

Boston Globe (subscription)
Tue, 12 May 2015 20:50:34 -0700

The participants will include former governor Michael Dukakis, former Sox player Tommy Harper, CNN's John King, Sox broadcaster Dave O'Brien, and sociologist Dr. Juliet Schor of Boston College. Former CBS News correspondent Morton Dean is the ...
 
Boston.com
Mon, 04 May 2015 04:39:23 -0700

Grace Lee Whitney, best known for portraying Captain James T. Kirk's (William Shatner) personal assistant in the original “Star Trek” series, and several of its subsequent films, died Friday in her California home, The Fresno Bee reports . She was 85.

SportsBlog.com (blog)

SportsBlog.com (blog)
Wed, 06 May 2015 15:42:07 -0700

The prize in that deal for the Red Sox was speedy outfielder Tommy Harper, who would have one great season for Boston in between two not so great ones. The Brewers got one great year of pitcher Jim Lonborg out of that deal and 5 of Scott's best career ...
 
The Providence Journal
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:05:41 -0700

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Providence chapter of the NAACP will celebrate its 101st year Friday with the Freedom Fund Awards Banquet, during which former Red Sox player and coach Tommy Harper will accept an award and speak about discrimination he ...

Jewish Business News

Jewish Business News
Wed, 15 Apr 2015 02:33:45 -0700

J.J. Abrams has appointed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” executive producer Tommy Harper as Chief Operating Officer of Abrams' Bad Robot Productions. This is a newly created position in which Harper will report directly to Abrams. Abrams is directing ...

SportsBlog.com (blog)

SportsBlog.com (blog)
Wed, 06 May 2015 14:11:15 -0700

It wouldn't be a stretch to say that Lynn and Rice put this team over the top after a mediocre 1974 season, since they replaced the lousy batting lines of Tommy Harper and Juan Beniquez in left field and center field, respectively. This team came ...
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