That 1963 squad won the national junior college championship.
That national title was just the beginning of Harris’s diamond career.
He went on to play parts of two seasons in the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals.
In 1968, Harris, a left-handed-hitting second baseman, batted .213 with five doubles, a triple and three RBIs in 38 games with the Indians. He made his major league debut June 16, 1968.
Those long-ago diamond exploits recently earned Harris enshrinement in the UNC-Wilmington Hall of Fame.
It’s not the first such honor for Harris: He’s a also a member of the Hamlet Wall of Fame, one of two former major leaguers so honored. Franklin Stubbs is the other.
Harris said making the UNC-Wilmington Hall of Fame is a “high honor.”
“There are only 37 people in that hall so it’s a real honor to be mentioned with those names,” Harris said.
For years, Harris has been a fixture at UNC-Wilmington baseball games.
And he’s no fair-weather fan: He has seen the team experience its share of highs and lows over the years.
He’s also watched UNC-Wilmington grow from its humble roots as Wilmington College — three buildings and a baseball fieldhouse — to where it is now, a four-year school and vital member of the University of North Carolina system.
One of the most special parts of being inducted into the Hall of Fame at UNC-Wilmington was the chance to see many of his old teammates again.
They’re getting older, and spread all over the map, but more than 25 of them found their way back to Wilmington a few weeks ago to see their teammate take his place among the sports giants at the school.
Harris hit .378 in that magical 1963 season. In 21 Junior College World Series plate appearances, he reached base 18 times.
That team was a young one, with seven freshman starters and two key pitchers also coming from the freshman class.
The Seahawks came from all corners of the state, but they came together and grew up in a hurry, Harris said.
Harris is the first member of that team to make it to the Hall of Fame.
But he hopes he isn’t the last.
Other players from that 1963 team are just as deserving, Harris said, especially players like pitcher Ray Ware, who was 6-0 on the 1963 season and won two games in the World Series; center fielder Tommy Cole, who hit .434 that year; and first baseman Bobby Shipp.
“I hope I’ve opened the door for some of those guys,” Harris said.
Contact sports editor David Vantress at 997-3111, ext. 14 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.