Harkness wins scout of the year honour

* Tim Harkness, former New York Mets 1B, at a card-signing show. ....    

June 6, 1996

By Bob Elliott

Our third annual scout-of-the-year award goes to Tim Harkness of the Padres.

Baseball scouts tell stories better than anyone, except maybe your father.

Harkness is a proud member of the Canadian scouting fraternity which beats the bushes looking for amateur talent.

While they watch, they pass time talking.

Harkness will flip out his wallet to show an Upper Deck card of Jimmy Piersall crossing home plate running backward.

“That’s me, the on-deck hitter with my hand out ready to shake his hand and he’s backing into me,” Harkness said of his season with the Mets.

Duke Snider had hit his 400th homer and there wasn’t much in the papers. So Piersall said `I’ve got 99, wait until you see my 100th’.”

Piersall went deep, ran his routine way to first, turned and ran backward around the bases. “When Jimmy crossed the plate Tom Gorman (plate ump) gave the safe sign and kicked Jimmy out of the game for making a mockery of baseball.”

Harkness, 58, grew up in Montreal, and played four seasons for the Dodgers and the Mets. His best season was in 1963 when he hit 10 homers and drove in 41 runs. He now lives in Oshawa.

Past winners of our scouting award were ex-Tigers lefty Bill Scherrer (Marlins) of Buffalo and Bill McKenzie (Rockies) of Ottawa.

After a game had been rained out three years ago, Scherrer pitched batting practice to a prospect while wearing white pants and wound up in the mud after a line drive through the box.

McKenzie signed RHP Brent Crowther and LHP Mike Kusiewicz, who combined for 23 wins last season.