So how does a ballplayer become a "slugging pitcher" like it says at the quote at the top of the page? Let's go "beyond the stats" and see the transition from a slugging first baseman in the Minor Leagues to a Major League pitcher:
Harshman was born in San Diego, California in 1927. He began his professional career at the age of 17 in 1945 for the San Diego Padres of the minor league AA Pacific Coast League. For his first five seasons, Harshman was being trained and conditioned to be a major league hitter instead of a pitcher. Jack's short stint in San Diego ended with a .254 batting average in 67 at-bats.
In 1946, Jack moved over to the Class C Modesto Reds, where he hit .288 in 56 games before being shipped back to the PCL San Diego squad for only 3 games. 1947 was his first busy season as he played in 151 games for the Victoria Athletics in the Winter Leagues. Harshman smashed 36 home runs while batting a modest .306. He then moved up yet again to the San Diego squad for just 11 games and a poor .148 average. Despite the sluggish ending, the Major League New York Giants purchased his contract as a first baseman in December 1947.
1948 had a change of scenery for Jack. He went to the Jersey City Giants of the AAA International League. Jack posted fairly average but modest numbers for the squad, hitting 24 home runs, driving in 76 runs, and batting .245. He received a brief call up to the Giants, but only batted .250 in 9 plate appearances.
1949 was a breakout year for the young 21-year-old slugger. In 150 games for the AA Minneapolis Millers, Harshman smashed 40 home runs and had 111 RBI. 1950 saw an unexpected change in Jack's progression. He batted a terrible .193 in 35 games for the Class A Jacksonville Tars and a below average .230 for Minneapolis. His second Major League stint with the Giants went even worse, batting just .125 in 32 at bats.
It was around this point that management thought about changing Harshman's role in the organization. During his sluggish 1949 season, he was brought in to pitch two games for the Jacksonville Tars. He threw for 12 innings and a 6.75 ERA, splitting his 2 games for a 1-1 record.
In 1951 Harshman got back on track with his slugging career. In 154 games for the Nashville Volunteers, he crashed 47 home runs with a fair .251 average. However, his manager once again experimented with Jack potentially being a pitcher, letting him take the field in 5 games. He posted another 1-1 record, but lowered his ERA to 3.94.
Despite bringing a huge bat in the previous season, the decision was made to give Harshman double duty as a pitcher and occasional utility hitter. He batted .222 with 8 home runs and 15 RBI in just 135 at bats, but most of his work for the 1952 season came from on the mound. Jack pitched in 26 games with 14 starts, threw a total of 131 innings with 78 strikeouts, a 4.67 ERA, and an average 6-7 win-loss record.
1953 was Jack Harshman's breakout year. In the AA Southern Association Nashville Volunteers, Jack posted a remarkable 23-7 record with a 3.27 ERA.
Richard Panchyk interviewed Jack Harshman for an upcoming book and quoted Harshman, "My first six or seven years were at first base, and I led the league in home runs a couple of different places. Once in Victoria, and then I came close in Minneapolis in 49, I hit 40 and the other guy hit 42, And then I did lead the league in 1951 when I was with Nashville. So I had over a couple of hundred home runs in my career." Truth is Harshman hit 36 home runs in Class B, 6 home runs in Class C, 1 home run in Single A, 59 home runs in Double A, 90 home runs in Triple A and 21 home runs in the Major Leagues (213 total)!
Back problems forced Jack Harshman out of the game he loved before his time. He once ended up on the disabled list after checking himself into the Cleveland Lakeside Hospital to treat the pain which ended up being connected to slipped discs. He still finished well in the career home runs as a pitcher (full table seen up above).