Willie Harris | Manager
William Charles Harris returns for his second season as the manager of the Richmond Flying Squirrels in 2019.
Harris was born in Cairo, Ga., the birth town of Jackie Robinson. After Harris won the World Series with the Chicago White Sox in 2005, his home town named the street he grew up on Willie Harris Drive.
Harris played football (receiver, returner and punter) and baseball for the Cairo High School Syrupmakers.
Harris was originally drafted out of Cairo High School in the 28th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1996, but he did not sign. Instead, he attended Middle Georgia College (now part of Middle Georgia State University). From there, he was drafted again by the Tampa Bay Rays, who would begin MLB play the following year, in the 90th round of that year's expansion draft, but he did not sign.
After another junior college season, Harris transferred to Kennesaw State University for the 1999 season, where he hit .365 with 14 homers, 49 RBIs and stole 40 bases. That performance earned him a selection in the 24th round of the 1999 MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles, and he began his professional career that summer with the Bluefield Orioles in the rookie-level Appalachian League and the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds in the South Atlantic League. He returned to Delmarva for his first full professional season in 2000.
Harris reached the Eastern League in 2001 with the Bowie Baysox, where he hit .305 over 133 games with nine homers and 54 stolen bases. He was selected as Eastern League Post-Season All-Star and climbed into the top-ten of Baseball America's Orioles top prospects list.
He earned a September call-up to Baltimore in 2001 and made his MLB debut on Sept. 2 against Seattle. Harris picked up his first major-league hit on Sept. 5 in Oakland.
On Jan. 28, 2002, Harris was traded to the White Sox in exchange for Chris Singleton. That year, he split time between the big-league roster and Triple-A Charlotte. He went on to spend four total seasons with the White Sox.
Harris was on the postseason roster for the White Sox in 2005, seeing playing time in three total games. Chicago led the World Series, 3-0, entering Game 4 eyeing a sweep. With no score in the eighth, Harris reached on a pinch-hit single. Later in the inning, he scored on a single by Jermaine Dye for the game's lone run as the White Sox topped the Houston Astros, 1-0, to clinch the World Series title.
He signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2006 and split time between the big-league roster and Triple-A Pawtucket.
In 2007, Harris signed with the Atlanta Braves and was assigned to Triple-A Richmond. In 17 April games, Harris hit .362 and earned a promotion to the majors at the end of the month. Over the following months, Harris saw one of the most productive stretches of his career. He hit .391 in 25 May games and was batting .342 through 57 games at the All-Star break.
On July 21, 2007 against the Cardinals, Harris went 6-for-6 with two triples, six RBIs, four runs scored and a stolen base. He tied the Braves franchise record for hits in a game in the 14-6 Atlanta victory.
Harris signed with the Nationals prior to the 2008 season and spent the next three years in the nation's capital. He slugged a career-best 13 homers in 2008.
He reached double-digits in homers again in 2010, but the tenth one never left the yard. On September 24, Harris hit the first inside-the-park home run in Nationals Park history.
Harris joined the New York Mets for the 2011 season and the Cincinnati Reds in 2012, where he split time between the majors and Triple-A Louisville before retiring after the season.
For his career, Harris played 1,046 games across 12 seasons. Defensively, he spent time in all three outfield positions, second base, third base and short stop.
After his playing career concluded, Harris coached a 16-U travel baseball team in Florida and operated a baseball facility. He first brought up his desire to begin coaching in the professional ranks to the White Sox during a 10-year reunion celebration in 2015 at Mike Ditka's Restaurant during conversations with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, executive vice president Ken WIlliams and senior vice president/general manager Rich Hahn. He was later offered a position in the organization by White Sox director of player development Nick Capra.
He began his professional coaching career in 2016 in the Chicago White Sox organization as the hitting coach for the Great Falls Voyagers, the short-season Single-A affiliate in the Pioneer League. That year, the Voyagers landed three hitters in the top-11 in the league in batting average, led by Aaron Schnurbusch, who hit .357.
Great Falls finished with the league's best overall record at 47-28 and won the Pioneer League North second-half division crown. In the postseason, the Voyagers were swept in the best-of-three semifinals by the Billings Mustangs.
Following the 2016 season, Harris picked up his first professional managerial experience during the fall Instructional League with the White Sox. He earned a promotion in the White Sox organization to manager of the Single-A Winston-Salem Dash for the 2017 season, which was officially announced on November 16, 2016.
In his first season as a minor-league manager, Harris led a team that featured four of the top-eight White Sox prospects, including Eloy Jimenez, Alec Hansen, Zack Collins and Dane Dunning. On the field, the Dash went 24-46, finishing fifth in the Carolina League South in the first half, and 32-38, fourth in the division, in the split-season's second half. Overall, Winston-Salem was 56-84 in 2017.
In October 2017, Harris was contacted by David Bell, then the Giants' vice president of player development, about joining the San Francisco organization. Harris played under Bell as a member of the Louisville Bats during his final playing season in 2012.
Harris was officially named as the seventh manager in Flying Squirrels history on December 14, 2017.
For the year, the Flying Squirrels went 62-76 and finished sixth in the Eastern League's Western Division. The team saw two players, Aramis Garcia and Ray Black, rise from Double-A to the majors by the end of the year for the first time in their careers.
The Giants and Flying Squirrels officially announced Harris' return to Richmond for a second season on January 25, 2019. Upon returning for the 2019 season, Harris is just the second manager in Richmond Flying Squirrels history to lead the club for multiple seasons, joining Dave Machemer, who spent three seasons with the club from 2011-13.
Harris Managerial Record
|2018||Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA/San Francisco)||62-76||.449||6th||--|
Harris Lifetime Batting Statistics
|02||Chicago White Sox||CWS||.233||49||163||14||38||4||0||2||12||9||21||8|
|03||Chicago White Sox||CWS||.204||79||137||19||28||3||1||0||5||10||28||12|
|04||Chicago White Sox||CWS||.262||129||409||68||107||15||2||2||27||51||79||19|
|05||Chicago White Sox||CWS||.256||56||121||17||31||2||1||1||8||13||25||10|
|06||Boston Red Sox||BOS||.156||47||45||17||7||2||0||0||1||4||11||6|
|11||New York Mets||NYM||.246||126||240||36||59||11||0||2||23||36||62||5|
|MLB Totals (12 seasons)||.238||1046||2441||365||580||100||24||39||212||306||500||107|
|MiLB Totals (10 seasons)||.277||638||2406||404||666||128||27||41||245||287||428||183|
|All Levels (14 Seasons)||.257||1684||4847||769||1246||228||51||80||457||593||928||290|
Flying Squirrels All-Time Managers