|Negro league baseball|
March 1, 1924|
|Died: December 23, 2004
|Career highlights and awards|
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wilmer Harris started playing sandlot ball at an early age with the boys of his neighborhood. He attended Central High School for Boys, where he graduated in 1941. In addition, he served as captain for the school's baseball and basketball teams, and also played for the Passon Stars club of the Fairmount Park League, which won four straight championships.
Harris was known as having a fearsome curveball. He entered the league in 1945 with the Philadelphia Stars, playing for them his entire eight-year career through 1952. In his debut, he faced pitching legend Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs before a 40000 crowd in the original Yankee Stadium. Late in the year, he struck out Jackie Robinson, by then a rookie who was pinch-hitting for the Monarchs.
The highlight of his career came in 1946, while pitching against the Newark Eagles at Connie Mack Stadium. With the bases loaded and no outs, Harris struck out in order three of the greatest hitters in Negro League history: Larry Doby, Lennie Pearson and Monte Irvin, to preserve the victory for his team.
In 1947, after the Major League Baseball season ended, Harris played for an All-Star team led by Jackie Robinson, composed of Robinson and other Negro League relevant players. He ended his career with the Stars in 1952, posting a career total of 120 wins and 45 losses for a solid .727 winning percentage.
A two-time NBL All-Star, Harris hurled the last three innings for the East Division in the 1951 East-West All-Star Game, allowing two hits without walks or runs while striking out four batters. He earned the save in a 3–1 victory. In 1952, his last season, he pitched again three innings of shutout ball in the East-West Game, surrendering two hits with a walk and did not have a strikeout in a 7–3 loss.
After retiring from baseball, he worked in Jenkintown for SPS Technologies during 37 years, retiring as a supervisor in 1989. He then was employed at Allied Securities Service in Pittsburgh for 12 years.
Wilmer Harris died in 2004 in his homeland of Philadelphia at the age of 80. At the time of his death, he was one of only five surviving members of the Philadelphia Stars.
He is survived by his Partner: Mary Ann Kennedy, his sister: Alberta, Daughters: Michaila, Sherri, Denise Owens, and Carolyn Carter, Son: Nicholas, Godson: Warren Parker, Grandchildren, Great-Grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
- "Negro League Baseball Players Association – Wilmer Harris profile".
- Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues: The Other Half of Baseball History – John Halway. Publisher: Hastings House, 2001. Format: Softcover, 472 pp. Language: English. ISBN 978-0-8038-2007-4
- Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues
- The Negro Leagues in New Jersey – Alfred M. Martin and Alfred T. Martin. Publisher: McFarland & Company, 2008. Format: Softcover, 280 pp. Language: English. ISBN 978-0-7864-3900-3
- The Deadball Era – Wilmer Harris obituary
- Find-A-Grave.com – Wilmer Joseph Harris page
- Negro league baseball statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference (Negro leagues)