This former Brave made history ... how?!

August 11th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman's Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

While the Braves were at Wrigley Field in June, I had a chance to talk to current Cubs third-base coach about the night he tallied six hits for the Braves with the assistance of a souvenir bat he decided to use to halt a slump.

“Ben Acree was the home clubhouse manager at the time and he had these bats hanging on his office wall,” Harris said. “They were giveaway bats, and I think he said they were like 20 years old. I wasn’t getting many hits and I was seeing my numbers go down. I had been playing real well before that slump.

"So, I was like, 'Let me use one of these bats.' I took it off the wall and took it into the game because I was like, 'What could it hurt?'”

Harris arrived at Turner Field on July 21, 2007, having hit .205 (17-for-83) with a .504 OPS over his previous 29 games. His batting average dropped from .412 to .317 during this span. So, he felt he had nothing to lose when he strolled to the plate that night to face the Cardinals’ Braden Looper with the souvenir bat in hand.

The veteran utility man began the bottom of the first with a line-drive single to right field, added another single in the second inning and then tripled in the third.

“I got my first three hits with that bat and then I had to get rid of it because it had a little crack in the handle,” Harris said. “I ended up signing it and putting it back up on the wall of Ben’s office. It was a great story.”

Using one of his regular bats over the remainder of a 14-6 Braves win, Harris added another triple and two more singles. He still stands with Felix Millan (July 6, 1970) as the only Braves to record six hits in a game. Both went 6-for-6. But only one used a souvenir bat.

“None of my teammates knew,” Harris said. “You’re playing in a Major League game. You don’t want people knowing you are using a souvenir bat.”

But Braves manager Bobby Cox knew Andruw Jones had promised Harris a watch if he ever went 5-for-5 in a game. So, with the Braves holding a comfortable lead, the Hall of Fame manager asked Harris if he wanted another plate appearance. Harris, of course, stayed in the game and made Jones stick to his promise.

“Andruw had his jeweler there the next day,” Harris said. “He opened up that suitcase that was full of big-time watches. I took the cheapest one because I didn’t want to be that guy.”

As a Cairo, Ga., native, Harris savored the chance to spend the 2007 season with the Braves. He was non-tendered during the offseason, but still has fond memories of the year he spent with Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Cox and others.

“It broke my heart,” Harris said. “As players, we move on. But whenever I came back to Atlanta to play the Braves, I punished the Braves and that was my goal. I wanted [then-general manager] Frank Wren to pay.”