Crimson Characters: Baseball's Harry Douglas

Crimson Characters: Baseball's Harry Douglas

Editor's Note:
The feature story below on baseball senior captain Harry Douglas
, is part of a year-long commitment to highlight Harvard’s captains and other intriguing student-athletes.

Harvard captain Harry Douglas led the team with a .342 batting average and had 52 hits, 29 runs, 27 RBI as well as a .513 slugging percentage and a .389 on-base percentage in 2009. Douglas has even shown some flashes of speed, tying for the team lead with eight stolen bases on 10 attempts and contributing a team-high 13 doubles. With his career at Harvard coming to a close, Douglas looks to stay involved in baseball after school.

What is your concentration?

How did you decide on Government?
Coming out of high school, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to study. I took a Gov. class in my freshman fall and really enjoyed it, so I stuck with it. The Gov. department has a lot of great classes, so I’m glad I did.

What have you learned about yourself competing in collegiate athletics and studying at Harvard?
I’ve learned that I can handle a lot. Baseball is a big commitment. I’ve loved pretty much every second of it, but it still does take a lot of dedication. I’ve tried to challenge myself with some difficult classes, and I found that I could handle them as well.

What are your career aspirations after you complete school?
I want to stay involved with baseball.

When you turn 30, what are some things you hope to have accomplished by that time?
I want a billion dollars by thirty. Who doesn’t though? Seriously, I’m not really sure. I hope to be healthy and happy and working hard to be successful at whatever I am doing at that point.

What is one thing you have learned in the classroom that you can apply to your everyday life? What about on the field?
It may seem cliché, but Harvard has taught me a lot about persistence. In baseball, I was injured my first couple of seasons, and it took a while for me to come back healthy. Academically, it took me a couple of semesters to figure out what it takes to be successful. I kept at it, and I’ve improved dramatically since then.

You’ve been playing both third and first base this season. Is it difficult switching back and forth between the two, and do you prefer one to the other?
The most difficult part is running back to the dugout to switch gloves. I love playing anywhere Coach Walsh tells me to go, so as long as I get to hit, I’m happy.

How did you first become involved in baseball?
My parents signed me up for tee ball when I was 6, and I’ve been playing ever since.

Is there a hit or a play you made that still stands out in your mind today?
When it comes to baseball, I have a memory like an elephant because I’m really focused when I play. I remember my first collegiate hit was at Jacksonville, a bloop over the second baseman’s head.

Who has been the toughest pitcher you have ever faced?
Brian Matusz at San Diego. His changeup was dirty, definitely the best I’ve ever faced. His fastball was around 93 mph, and his change-up had to have been 80 mph with downward movement, coming from the same arm action as his fastball. I almost never get fooled by the same pitch twice in a row, but he got me with his changeup. Hopefully I’ll get to face him again someday.

This year you again got to compete in the Beanpot at Fenway Park. What is that experience like, getting to play in the same park as the Red Sox?
It’s fun to imagine that you belong there for a day. At the same time, it’s very humbling knowing the history of the ballpark and all the great players who have played there before.

Because the season starts in early March, the team has to head south to play teams down there. Does that help or hurt the team, or both?
It never hurts getting to play in 80-degree weather while it’s still 30 degrees up here in Cambridge. The trips down south are some of the most fun experiences of the year, and it allows us to play some excellent teams.

Is it a disadvantage for northern teams not being able to practice outdoors as much as southern teams can?
It used to be a disadvantage before we had the bubble over the football field. Now we can hit, field, long toss and even simulate games inside, so I’d say we’re on a fairly even footing with southern teams.

What was the best field/stadium you ever played at? Which one was the worst?
My favorite field we’ve played at is Tampa. Their field was in pristine condition, the weather was beautiful and the backdrop was the skyline of Tampa. There were palm trees surrounding the field. It was very picturesque. We haven’t played at any fields that were really terrible, but I never liked Dartmouth’s old field because the dugouts were very small, the field dimensions were really arbitrary and the field itself wasn’t the best condition. This year they completely redid it with turf, so I’m looking forward to seeing it.

Were you involved and have you tried to stay involved in other sports?
I used to play soccer and basketball back in the day. I play a little tennis. When there are enough people, I love to play football. I also try to play basketball now, but I’m terrible. My jump shot is garbage, and I’m not ashamed to admit that.

What other activities do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I like working out, lifting weights and running. I like playing poker, video games, reading and spending time with my friends. When I’m home in New Jersey, I like to go to the shore and relax on the beach.

What was the first CD or the first few CDs you ever bought as a kid?
The first CD I ever got was a Will Smith CD one of my friends gave me as a birthday gift. In fact, I’m pretty sure I still have it.

Have you read a book, watched a movie or done something else that you would recommend to a friend?
I would recommend a documentary called “Street Fight.” It is about the 2002 mayoral campaign in Newark, N. J. It follows Cory Booker through his campaign, and it’s really fascinating to see what goes on behind the scenes.

Have you ever gotten to meet anyone famous, and is there anyone you would like to meet?
The most famous person I’ve gotten to chat with is Harvard President Drew Faust.

If you could visit any place in the world and do anything, regardless of money, where/what would it be?
This may not count as any place in the world, but I think it would be pretty cool to go to the moon like the Apollo astronauts. Not saying I’d want to live there, but just touch down, bounce around a little bit and come home.

What are a few meals, either for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack, that you wouldn’t mind having to eat over and over?
This is the easiest question yet. Felipe’s Tacqueria. I eat there about 4-5 times per week. In fact, I’m on a first name basis with the people behind the counter. My favorite order is a super chicken burrito with black beans, rice, jalapenos and hot sauce. Delicious.