Vic Harris had kind of bad luck in one aspect of his life. Now he played in the Majors for 8 seasons and at one point was traded in a package that involved a Hall of Famer, so how bad could he have had it.
But he was on a fast track to get one, two or maybe three World Series rings. Instead he never appeared in the post season.
Victor Lanier Harris was a high school star at LA High School and found himself playing for Los Angeles Valley College in the late 1960’s. The Mets drafted him in 1969 but he didn’t sign.
The A’s picked up in the January Secondary draft a few months later and he signed up.
The young second baseman worked his way up the A’s farm system, hitting for a solid average and stealing a lot of bases. He didn’t walk much, but nobody cared back then.
He split 1972 between AA and AAA in the Oakland system. Meanwhile the parent team had a revolving door of second basemen. Tim Cullen, Larry Brown, Dick Green and Dal Maxvill all would set up shop at second and often times be lifted for a pinch hitter.
A young speedster second baseman like Harris would have a real shot in Oakland. And lo and behold, on July 21, 1972, he made his big league debut.
That was the good news.
The bad news was he didn’t appear with the A’s. He was a Texas Ranger. He and Steve Lawson and Marty Martinez were sent packing to Arlington while Don Mincher and Ted Kubiak headed to the A’s. Kubiak was a second baseman and added to the Merry Go Round.
Harris didn’t get a hit in his first 38 plate appearances and only 1 hit in his first 16 games.
He busted out for a 3 hit performance on August 8 but in the end, he was a non factor.
Meanwhile the A’s and their rotation of non descript second baseman went on to win the World Series in 1972.
In 1973, Harris moved from second base to center field for Texas, not lighting up the league but playing well enough to keep his job. He kept his job by bouncing all over the place. He started 108 games in center, 22 at third, 12 at second base and even one game in right field. The Rangers lost 103 games and got rid of Whitey Herzog and brought in Billy Martin.
The A’s won the World Series that year as well. Dick Green handled most of the second baseman duties.
The Rangers packaged future batting champion Bill Madlock to the Cubs for future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins after the 1973 season. To sweeten the pot, the Rangers threw in Vic Harris, who was only 24 years old.
Switching leagues did not help his cause. His average dropped from .249 to .195. His OPS was a terrible .549. The Rangers contended without him. The A’s won the World Series again.
The next few seasons, he bounced between the majors and the minors, going from the Cubs, the Cardinals, the Giants and the Brewers. He didn’t steal bases anymore and he had little power. He was versatile, playing all over the diamond, and kept himself in the game.
Ultimately, he joined the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes of the Japan Pacific League. There he slugged 22 homers in 1981 as baseball was on strike. He only hit 13 homers total in the majors.
Vic Harris survived for a while in the majors. If he had stayed in Oakland for just one of those years, he would have been on the second basemen merry go round and picked up a ring.
Sometimes those missed chances are out of our control.
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