March 25, 2004

Former Mobile baseball pioneer Jim 'Pig' Harris dies (3/22/04) at 84

Posted March 25, 2004

Staff Reporter /

Jim "Pig" Harris, a former Negro League baseball player who became influential in minor league baseball in Mobile, died Monday (3/22/2004) at a hospital after a brief illness. He was 84.

A lifelong Mobilian, Harris was a catcher in the National Negro Leagues during the 1940s. Because of his age, he never had an opportunity to make it into Major League Baseball once Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, according to relatives.

He later became affiliated with the Mobile Black Bears, the Mobile Black Shippers and the Weinacker Red Sox as a manager-player with the semi-professional teams.

"Semi-professional ball was very popular during those days," recalled Ralph "Tin Cup" Taylor.

Taylor, who formerly played with the Weinacker Red Sox, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians and played with those organizations' minor league teams.

Taylor remembered Harris as a thoughtful man.

"He did a lot to develop players and spent his own money to do that," Taylor said. "He trained us well. He was well-versed in baseball. He was a very wonderful person."

Among the Major League players and Hall of Famers Harris helped to develop as youths were Hank Aaron, Amos Otis, Billy Williams, Willie McCovey and Tommie Agee, in addition to numerous minor league talents, according to Taylor.

Harris once hit a home run off Satchel Paige at Hartwell Field in Mobile.

Taylor said that Harris also had the opportunity to catch for Paige.

In 1997, Harris, Taylor and a number of others received the Mobile Minor League Hero's Award from Mayor Mike Dow and the City Council, Taylor said.

Survivors include his wife, Laura W. Harris of Mobile; two daughters, Janice Harris Brazier of Mobile and Patricia Harris Thomas of Temple Hills, Md.; one son, Gregory L. Harris of Mobile; 10 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be Friday from 9 a.m. until the 11 a.m. funeral at Aimwell Baptist Church, 500 Earl St. Burial will be in Gethsemane Cemetery, with Hodge's Chapel on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue directing.