The curveballing, ambidextrous Harris — not to be confused with another Greg Harris who pitched at approximately the same time — bounced around the NL before landing with the 1984 NL champion Padres. Roughed up by the Cubs in the playoff opener, he allowed a NLCS-record six earned runs in one inning. He came into his own after his 1985 sale to Texas, leading AL relievers with 111 strikeouts and posting a 2.47 ERA. He went 10-8 (2.83) with a staff-high 20 saves in 1986, but in 1987 he both started and relieved, went 5-10 without a save, and was released. He had missed some games that season after injuring his elbow flicking sunflower seeds to a friend in the stands.
Harris caught on with the Phillies, but was waived in August 1989 after a year-and-a-half of solid relief work. He signed with the Red Sox, beginning a five-year Beantown tenure that would include some of his most productive years in the majors. Helped by Sox starter Mike Boddicker, Harris adapted his curve to a variety of pitching motions. The experiment paid off — his first two seasons, spent in the rotation, produced 24 wins. Harris’ ERA dropped from 3.85 to 2.51 after he returned to the bullpen in 1992, and he made a league-leading 80 appearances in 1993.
Harris’ heavy workload soon took its toll. He moved to the Yankees after starting the 1994 season with an 8.38 ERA, and pitched just three games for his new team before the strike hit.
Harris’ unusual ability to pitch with both hands led to some tension between him and the Red Sox, who forbade the ambidextrous hurler from throwing lefty. GM Lou Gorman insisted it would “make a mockery” of the game, leading Harris to grumble, “Boston is so conservative. People are afraid to try anything.” In a muted show of defiance, Harris usually chose to wear an ambidextrous glove on the mound.
But just before his retirement, while pitching for the Expos in 1995, the veteran hurler finally became the only twentieth-century pitcher to throw from both sides of the mound. After Harris (pitching righty) retired Reggie Sanders to start off the ninth inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds on September 28, 1995, he turned around to face the left-handed Hal Morris.
Harris issued a free pass, thus becoming the first ambidextrous major-league pitcher since Elton “Ice Box” Chamberlain of the American Association in 1888. Nerve-wracked, he stayed a southpaw and induced a ground-out from Eddie Taubensee, closing out the inning by retiring Bret Boone as a righty. The last pitcher to use both hands in a pro game had been Bert Campaneris, who did so in 1962 while playing for Daytona Beach in the Florida State League.