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It’s official: V-Hay goes out on top

Some of you who are on Facebook may already know this, but Vince Harrison has retired from playing and will be coaching in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization next season.  I talked to him today and he was in Bradenton, FL already at work with some of the younger guys.  You could not have possibly scripted a better way of going out.

He told me at the batting cage one day in the middle of the season that he wanted to get into coaching, and in fact began throwing batting practice from time to time this season in order to get the hang of one of the many aspects of being a coach.  Surprisingly, that’s probably one of the more difficult skills to master… you want to throw it firm to your teammates so they have something good to hit, but you don’t want to cut loose in case one gets away from you.  And you have to make sure you stay behind the cage in the event of a comebacker… it really is not an easy thing to do.

Anyway, he was one of the guys that I sometimes watched with that thought in mind, knowing that he might be approaching the end of something he had done his whole life, and wondering how that might be weighing on him.  But it never seemed to affect him one way or the other… he was the same guy every day, never really saw him press, or look at anything in a negative light.  Kept everyone including himself loose, and the clubhouse was a better place to be because of it.  He approached it perfectly, making sure he had fun and enjoyed every single day even though he had a pretty good idea in his own mind that his playing career was winding toward the finish.

Of course, he had to fight through plenty of his own battle scars to reach the finish line as a champion this season, and throughout his entire career which included some nasty hand and leg injuries that cost him full seasons.  This year it was a nagging leg issue in the second half that made it painful for him just to make it from one base to the next at times, but the gritty third baseman and former University of Kentucky football player wasn’t about to let that keep him off the field when his team needed him most.

And while in 2010 he was in some ways along for the ride for his first pro championship, brought in as an insurance policy at third base in case Castro couldn’t make it back from his own late-season injury, this year, he was in there almost everyday, and the Revs wouldn’t have won without him.  Clutch hits in both series, clutch plays at third, and a .529 average, 5 doubles, and 5 RBI in 9 postseason games sent him home with Postseason MVP honors.

But there was much more to the story than just that.  He received a surprise visit the night before from his entire family.  It was unbeknownst to him beforehand that they were planning the trip, but they were there to see the final day of his playing career with a championship win to boot.  They were there to see him crack the clutch double in the seventh inning and score the tying run in the Game 4 clincher… and to jump on the pile in the celebration… and to be named MVP.

Winning a championship and being named the most valuable player out of the 25 guys on your team en route to winning your team’s championship victory, there is no greater high to go out on than that.

Talking to him that night, he was leaning toward making that his last game as a player, knowing full well that nothing he’d do in 2012 could top the way that 2011 ended, but he still wasn’t completely sure of it. He was just enjoying the moment. The next day though, he received calls from more than one organization, and by the end of the week he was in Bradenton, FL beginning his new career with the Pirates.  He’ll be in the same organization as his younger brother Josh who is viewed as their third baseman of the future.  I have no doubt that he’ll be great at it, and something tells me there might be more stories of the “you can’t write this script” variety in the Harrison’s future.

This is the Facebook post that Vince made a couple of weeks ago announcing the news:

“Tomorrow I put the uniform back on, but not the cleats! I’m excited for the next step in my life. Next season I’ll be coaching in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Where I’ll be is still to be determined. First, I wanna thank my family for always supporting me in everything I do. Yall are my foundation! Second, I wanna thank all my teammates throughout my time as a player because I’ve learned a lot from everybody. Special shout out to my York Revolution for winning back to back titles & allowing me to go out on top. Next, I wanna thank all the fans & friends who always supported & cheered for me. Lastly, I wanna thank my real life Jerry Maguires Jonathon Maurer & Mike Montana. Thanks for always believing in me & fighting for me!! I’m excited for new challenges that lie ahead”

That post alone generated 80 “likes” and 74 comments, some of the highest numbers I’ve ever seen for any Facebook post, and that is in addition to several other wall posts congratulating Vince.  It’s clear he’s an easy guy to root for and has a tremendous amount of fans which we all know here in York.

He certainly made his mark here in our town.  We thank him for what he did for the Revs, and wish him all the best!



3 responses

  1. Rknaub

    We’ll definitely miss him. Best of luck in everything, Vince!

    October 19, 2011 at 5:10 pm

  2. Keri

    Love you always, V-Hay! Thanks for all the memories and best wishes on the next part of your career!

    October 20, 2011 at 5:22 pm

  3. Pingback: (Coach) Keoni joins the Pirates « blogtoblogchamps

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