The Nationals family lost a cherished former major league player and valued mentor this week.
Boyd Gail Harris Jr., a left-handed hitting first baseman with the New York Giants and the Detroit Tigers from 1955-60, and father of Hagerstown Suns hitting coach Mark Harris, passed away in Gainesville, Va., on Nov. 14. He was 81.
Gail Harris played in 437 games for the Giants and Tigers, hitting .240 with 38 doubles, 15 triples, 51 homers and 190 RBIs.
In 1958, at the age of 26, Harris played in a career-high 134 games for the Tigers, crushing a career-high 20 homers to go with 83 RBIs. His eight triples in 1958 ranked as fifth-best in the American League and his 122 games that year were the most played by a first baseman. His .481 slugging percentage ranked him in the top 10. He also played 114 games for Detroit in 1959.
Harris was signed by the New York Giants in 1950 as an undrafted free agent. He made his debut on June 3, 1955.
Harris was born and raised in Abingdon, Va., a town nestled in the southwestern tip of Virginia. He attended Abingdon High School, according to Baseball Reference.
His son, Mark Harris, is currently a hitting coach in the Nationals’ system with experience with the Suns and the Potomac Nationals. Last season, he worked with the likes of Jason Martinson, Matt Skole and Brian Goodwin, and many others, as the Suns put up some of the top power numbers in the South Atlantic League.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Harris family as we remember the legacy of Gail Harris.