Thomas William Harkness
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 2", Weight 182 lb.
Tim Harkness was a first baseman who played four seasons in the major leagues.
Born in Quebec, he was also a hockey player, and was pursued to play professional hockey. He signed a baseball deal with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1956. Playing in the minors, Harkness went on to hit 117 home runs, with a peak of 28 while with the Atlanta Crackers in 1960.
Harkness came up with the Los Angeles Dodgers for two years in 1961 and 1962. It was a very tough time to try to break in with the Dodgers as a first baseman. In 1961, Gil Hodges was the regular first baseman, and Norm Larker had hit .323 the year before in striving to win the job. A young Ron Fairly also struggled for playing time, and won the first base job in 1962 after both Hodges and Larker were gone from the team.
Harkness, however, did get into 5 games in 1961, hitting .500. In 1962, he appeared in 92 games (appearing in 58 defensively at first base), getting 62 at-bats. He knew how to wait for a walk, and his .370 on-base percentage was good. The Dodgers won 102 games that year, tying for the league lead, but lost the play-off to the San Francisco Giants, and so Harkness could not appear in the World Series.
Traded to the New York Mets after the season, he became the regular first baseman on Casey Stengel's last-place team in 1963. Former Dodgers Duke Snider and Charlie Neal were also in the lineup (and Gil Hodges was on the team, too, before he was traded in May). Harkness hit only .211, but it was better than Ed Kranepool, who was vying with him for the first base job. It was also better than two other regulars, Al Moran, and Choo Choo Coleman, who both hit under .200. Kranepool, who was considered an up-and-coming star, won the regular first base job in 1964, but Harkness, in his last 39 games in the majors, hit .282 at the age of 26. The Mets as a team hit .246.
While working as a scout for the San Diego Padres in 1996, he was named Scout of the Year by "Slam! Canadian Baseball", which each year honors a Canadian baseball scout. In 2002 and 2003 (and perhaps longer), he was manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball club in the Intercounty Baseball League.
Recently, Harkness was asked about his reminiscences regarding Tommy Lasorda. The two had played on the minor-league Montreal Royals team that visited Cuba shortly after Fidel Castro took over. There were armed guards everywhere at the stadium, and Clay Bryant, in anger about a play, accidentally hit one of the guards in the dugout. Lasorda was the only player who spoke Spanish, and calmed down the guard. Said Harkness:
"[The guard's] gun was right at me. . . Tommy was the only guy we had who spoke Spanish. Does Tommy belong in the Hall [of Fame]? Yes, he saved my life and a bunch of other guys, too."