For Glenn Harris, the quest has begun. His mission: to uphold a family tradition begun more than a half-century ago by his grandfather, baseball Hall of Famer Bucky Harris.
For the young Harris, the mission starts here, with the Johnson City Cardinals of the Class A Appalachian League. He hopes it ends in the major leagues, where his grandfather in 29 years managed five teams, including the Washington Senators three times. He led the Senators to a World Series championship in 1924, his first season as a manager. He also guided the New York Yankees to a World Series victory in 1947.
Glenn's father Dick, a stockbroker in Washington, sent three seasons as a second baseman in the Senators' system, rising to the AAA level.
Glenn Harris says this will not place any added pressure on him. "I feel honored about what my grandfather and father have done, and I feel that in some way, their accomplishments could help me move up," said Harris, an articulate graduate of the University of Virginia, where he majored in aerospace engineering.
Harris' baseball career began at Lake Braddock High School in Springfield, Va., where his family still lives.
"To tell you the truth, I had a real poor high school career," he said. "I had only a few college scholarship offers and I ended up going to Virginia as a walk-on. I played there for a year, earned a scholarship, and then had two good hitting years."
When Harris was a sophomore, he led the Atlantic Coast Conference with a .425 average. As a junior, he batted .391 and set a school record with 41 RBI. He had high hopes of being selected in major league baseball's free agent draft, but a hand injury he got during the ACC tournament ruined his chances.
"Before the tournament, there were quite a few teams interested in me," Harris said. "After I got hurt, I was basically swinging the bat with one hand. The teams all shied away. The California Angels stuck with me the longest and wanted an injury report, but things just didn't work out. They wanted me to go back to school and see if it was all right."
Harris did return to Virginia, but had a dismal season by the standards he'd set for himself in his two previous years, batting .242.
"I felt so much pressure this year, but I guess I put it on myself," he said. "I played first base my first three years and I was moved to left field and was also leading off my senior year. So besides the fact I put pressure on myself to do well so I'd be drafted, I was also playing a new position and leading off, which I'd never done before."
Harris went through some anxious moments earlier this month when the draft was conducted. Two of the draft's three scheduled days passed before he finally heard from the Cardinals; he'd been taken on the 21st round and would report to Johnson City in two weeks.
"I really didn't care how much money I was getting," Harris said, "I just wanted the chance to play. Now that I'm here in Johnson City, I feel like a little kid again, I'm just having fun.
"It's great to get paid to play the game. That was one of the hardest things when I was sitting around waiting to be drafted. You think to yourself, 'What if I don't get the chance? What if I have to end doing something I've been doing for years?' "
Harris did get a chance, but he's aware it could not work out. If not, he's only 21 hours short of earning his college degree.
"But I don't want to go into engineering just yet," Harris said. "I had two good years in college and finished with a bad one. I don't want to end my playing days on a low note, and I don't ever want to have to say, 'What if?'
"I'd also like to carry on the family tradition and do as well as my father and grandfather did. It's going to be a tough road; there are a lot of good players around the country. I really would like to play major league baseball because I feel inside that I can."