Hall of Fame Candidate No. 19: Vic Harris
As promised, for the next couple months, I’ll be writing up the Baseball Hall of Fame from top to bottom—every candidate, every argument, lots of fun. We continue this week with the veterans committee candidates — the players in the Early Baseball Era Committee and candidates from the Golden Days Era Committee.
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Vic Harris (Early Baseball Era Ballot)
Superb and fierce player and manager in the Negro leagues. … Star in the Negro National League in the late 1920s and 1930s, hitting .300 with doubles and triples power for the Homestead Grays and, briefly, the Pittsburgh Crawfords. … Played in six East-West All-Star Games … Became manager of the Grays in 1935 and won eight pennants. He was manager of the 1948 Grays who won the last Negro Leagues World Series.
Key numbers: According to the limited numbers available, Harris hit .305/.372/.427 in an 18-year career of playing in the Negro National League and Eastern League. He posted 11 WAR in elite play according to the best estimates. As a manager, his teams went 547-278 and 10-15 in the postseason.
Hall of Fame history: Best I can tell, Harris’ one public shot at the Hall of Fame came in 2006, when the Committee on African-American Baseball was charged with filling the void of Negro leaguers in the Hall of Fame. Harris was one of 94 candidates selected for screening, but he did not make the final ballot of 39.
Vicious Vic Harris — called that for his penchant for violence on and off the field — represents a perfect example of just how difficult it is to make the Baseball Hall of Fame. Does he have an engrossing Hall of Fame case? You bet he does. He was an excellent and ferocious player AND a manager of eight pennant-winning teams Defensively, he played every position except pitcher.
And yet … I have him 19th on my list.
I’m not saying that’s right … I’m just saying that SOMEBODY has to be 19th on this list and that somebody is going to have a good Hall of Fame case.