Harris becomes first Navy grad to earn MLB win
ST. LOUIS -- Having already joined Nemo Gaines as the only graduates of the United States Naval Academy to ever throw a big league pitch, Cardinals reliever Mitch Harris accomplished what Gaines never did in his time with the Washington Senators some 94 years ago: That is, earn a Major League win.
Lieutenant Harris, whose professional baseball career was preceded by a five-year service commitment in the US Navy, pitched a scoreless sixth in relief on Tuesday and then watched from the dugout as the Cardinals broke a tie game with two runs in the bottom half of the frame. The club held on for a 7-4 win over the Cubs, leaving Harris a line of handshakes and a game ball that he plans to display in his home.
"Being that this is the dream that I always wanted and the goal of this is to win, it means a lot," Harris said. "Everybody else looks at the story. I look at it on the field. That's how I want to be remembered. But obviously people are now starting to realize that I want to be a really good pitcher, a good teammate, and then the story will come later."
Harris' story gained deserved attention when he joined the Major League team on April 21, but his pitching performances since have reinforced that he is around on merit, not on scholarship. Tuesday marked Harris' sixth appearance out of the Cardinals' bullpen. He has yet to allow a run while scattering six hits over 6 2/3 innings.
"The guys in there get it that it's a big deal what he's doing," manager Mike Matheny said. "We're not forgetting that, but we're also realizing that it's a big deal what he's doing on the mound for us."
Gaines' stay in the Majors spanned only four games.
"I know that my story is a little different, but I don't want to be any more different than anybody else," Harris said. "To me, it's just like [it would be] for anybody else. It's my first win, and I'm excited. We'll celebrate later on when we do bigger things."