Mitch Harris started his baseball career at the U.S. Naval Academy, playing four years for the Navy Midshipmen baseball team. Most collegiate athletes with a stellar pitching and hitting career like his would be drafted to a Major League Baseball team, but Harris served nearly five years in the U.S. Navy.
His Naval career included deployments to the Persian Gulf, Russia and to South America in support of anti-drug operations. That didn’t stop MLB teams from trying to draft him though. He was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2007 but did not sign, and in 2008 he was again drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. However, due to his service commitment, he was unable to play.
After leaving the U.S. Navy in 2013, Harris began playing with the Cardinals organization, playing first with the State College Spikes, Palm Beach Cardinals and Memphis Redbirds. On April 21, Harris was called up by Cardinals, making him the first Naval Academy graduate to play in the MLB since Nemo Gaines played for the Washington Senators in 1921.
Harris made history again on May 5 when he pitched a scoreless sixth inning in the Cardinals victory of the Chicago Cubs – becoming the first Naval Academy alum to win a Major League Baseball game.
Harris told MLB.com after his win, “I know that my story is a little different, but I don’t want to be any more different than anybody else. To me, it’s just like for anybody else. It’s my first win, and I’m excited. We’ll celebrate later on when we do bigger things.”
Off the mound, Harris still serves in the Navy Reserves.