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The Story of Bob Harris, Wyoming’s First Major League Baseball Player

Sporting News, Rogers Photo Archive, Getty Images
Sporting News, Rogers Photo Archive, Getty Images

Last year, New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo became the 15th Wyoming native to play Major League Baseball. Nimmo’s long road to the majors is similar to the Cowboy State’s first big leaguer, Bob Harris.

Harris was born and raised in Gillette. At the age of 20, he was signed by the Detroit Tigers organization and assigned to the Alexandria Aces in Louisiana. During two seasons with the Aces, the right-handed pitcher compiled a record of 30-15, threw a no-hitter and led his team to a league championship.

After winning twelve more games for the Beaumont Explorers in the Texas League, Harris was promoted to the American Association, where he won 13 games as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens.

Neating the end of his fourth season in the minors, Harris finally made the show, debuting for the Tigers on September 19, 1938. In three relief appearances, he pitched 10 innings and went 1-0.

Harris started the 1939 season with the Tigers before being traded to the St. Louis Browns in a 9-player deal. Playing for one of the worst teams in the league, he ranked among the lead leaders in losses for three consecutive seasons. In 1942, he was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics.

Like many players of the era, his career was cut short by War War II. Harris spent the next three years on a Navy ship in the Pacific Ocean. After the war ended, he briefly attempted a comeback, playing in the minors for the Mud Hens and Milwaukee Brewers before retiring in 1946.

Harris eventually settled in North Platte, Nebraska, where he worked as an insurance adjuster. In 1989, he died at the age of 74.

 

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