Saturday, December 17, 2016

#339 Terry Harper Atlanta Braves

Do you like blue? Because I have a card for you!  Blue jersey, blue helmet, blue borders, blue sky, blue dugout...I think you get the picture.  This is Terry Harper's third Topps card and his second solo card.

Player:  Georgia native Terry Harper was drafted as a pitcher by the Braves in the 16th round in 1973, and after three years of getting knocked around in single-A ball he made the move to the outfield in 1976.  Harper worked his way up the chain and made his major league debut in September of 1980, netting 10 hits in 54 at bats in the month's final season.

Harper spent most the strike filled '81 season on the major league roster and posted a .260/.353/.356 line in 40 games.  The lanky outfielder didn't make the team coming out spring training in 1982 and beat the heck out of AAA pitching for three months (.384/.468/.678) before getting called back up the bigs when a struggling Brett Butler was demoted.  Harper torched lefties in a part time role and struggled against righties finishing with a.285 bating average when the dust settled. 

Harper w"as the Braves 4th outfielder in '83 behind Dale Murphy, Brett Butler, and Claudell Washington and posted pedestrian numbers.  The next year was a disaster as he batted .157 and spent the dog days of summer in AAA ball.

When Braves prospect Brad Komminsk floundered in left field, Harper filled the void and 1985 would be a career year.  Harper hit 17 HR, 72 RBI, and stole nine bases, all career highs.  
Harper returned to part time role in '86 and was traded to Detroit in the offseason.  Harper split 1987 between Detroit and Pittsburgh in his final major league campaign.

Flipside:  Seeing that he only a handful of at bats in his first three pro years is really odd but it was a by product of him pitching.  I wonder if his career had started as a hitter if he would have been a better hitter in the long term?

Oddball:  Harper is listed on this card (and most of his cards) as 6'1" but he is listed on most websites as being 6'4".  Makes me wonder if he had a growth spurt after his first pro season and he never had his info updated?

History: Harper seemed to have a lot of ability with a rifle arm, good speed and occasional pop but other than 1985 he never played full time.  He finished his eight year career with a .253/.321/.371 line. These days Harper coaches youth baseball in his home state of Georgia.

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