Greg Allen Harris pitched 15 years in the major leagues (1981-95), spending time with the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. He appeared in 703 games, primarily as a reliever (just 98 starts), turning in a 74-90 record with a 3.69 career ERA and 54 saves. His best years were, arguably, 1986 (10-8, 2.83, 20 saves for the Rangers) and 1990 (13-9, 4.00 as a starter for the Red Sox).
Harris’ fifteen years in the majors clearly establishes him as a serviceable major league hurler, but it is was what Harris did in his next-to-last MLB appearance that put him in the record books – and got his glove into the Hall of Fame. On September 28, 1995, Harris (then a Montreal Expo) was called in from the bullpen to pitch the top of the ninth, with the Expos trailing the Reds 9-3. In that memorable ninth inning, Harris went from a decent, switch-hitting pitcher (.221 career average in 68 at bats) to the first (and still only) post-1900 “switch pitcher” to throw from the mound both left-handed and right-handed in the same game.
A natural right-hander, Harris had worked to develop his left-handed pitching skills. He had a unique six-fingered baseball glove that could be worn on either hand, and was often seen warming up left-handed in the bullpen (and on occasion took a turn pitching batting practices right- and left-handed). Harris was considered somewhat of a “character,” perhaps better suited to be part of the eccentric clan of lefties, but management was reluctant to let him switch to the port side in a game. He finally got his opportunity to prove his southpaw skills in that September 28th game – and he was prepared. He came to the mound with his six-fingered glove and, apparently, two handfuls of determination.
Starting out right-handed, he got righty-hitting outfielder Reggie Sanders on a ground ball to short. Then he switched his glove to the opposite hand and faced lefty-hitting first baseman Hal Morris as a southpaw. Harris’ first-ever in-game lefty offering sailed wide of Expos’ catcher Joe Siddal, and Harris walked Morris on four pitchers. Next up was the Reds’ left-handed hitting catcher Ed Taubensee. Harris continued to throw left-handed, running up a 3-2 count before getting Taubensee to top the ball in front of the plate. Siddal picked up the weak grounder and fired to first for the second out, with Morris advancing to second. The next hitter was right-handed hitting Brett Boone. Harris switched back to his natural right-handed delivery and got Boone on a come backer to the mound. The Expos, by the way, scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to close the gap to 9-7 and nearly make Harris the last ambidextrous pitcher to record a win.
Previous to Harris’ right-lefty appearance, the last MLB pitcher to pitch with both hands was Tony Mullane in 1893.