Interview with 1963 Ports Manager Harry Dunlop
Sacramento native Harry Dunlop kicks off our weekly blog posts leading up to Ports Alumni Night on May 18. Harry, a member of the 1963 California League Champion Ports team, served as the team’s manager, catcher, and only coach. Get to know Harry Dunlop before you see him at Banner Island Ballpark on May 18!
Name: Harry Dunlop
Nickname: I don’t remember a nickname from 1963, but one of the 1962 players called me “Coach.” I said, “I’m not your coach, I’m your manager! Coaches are in college baseball!” After that, I always called him “Rook.”
Position: Manager/catcher/pitcher. In the Minor Leagues, there often weren’t a lot of pitchers so during a blowout games, rather than using another pitcher, I’d go in to pitch and absorb the runs. It was commonplace in the Minor Leagues back then. In 1963, I pitched in 3 games and started one.
Number: 14. Throughout my career, I was always number 4 or 14. I don’t really know why, and it wasn’t for any particular reason. I think it just happened to be the right size jersey.
Date of birth: September 6, 1933
High school: Sacramento High School
College: One year at Sacramento Junior College
- What is your favorite memory from your time on the Ports in 1963?
- The day we clinched the pennant. It was on my birthday: September 6, 1963 in Bakersfield. I will never forget that. It was my first pennant as a manager in the Minors.
- What accomplishments from your days with the Ports are you most proud of?
- Helping in a small way in developing players for the major leagues. In my four years in Stockton, 10 of my players reached the Major Leagues. That was a nice accomplishment.
- What favorite memory do you have about your 1963 teammates?
- They were great to work with, they all wanted to improve, and they were dedicated to winning. That was the important thing. It’s easy to manage when the players really want it. That was one of the big reasons that we won the Championship.
- Who was the most memorable character from your 1963 Ports team?
- Lloyd Fourroux. He was a big, strapping outfielder from New Orleans. He was funny. There would be times when everyone would look at him and say, “What’s he talking about?” But he hit the most home runs on the team– I think it was 20 that year. Paul Blair was also a character. He did some dandy things at times.
- How involved were you and your teammates in the community?
- We were very involved. We did youth baseball clinics a couple times a year during the summer when school was out. I also spoke at luncheons for rotary clubs and Kawanis clubs. We tried to be involved in the Ports country there and do as much as possible. The clinics were a big thing for the players, and sometimes I look players to the luncheons with me.
- 1963 was a memorable year in American history. Did the current events at the time affect your team at all?
- There were no real big changes as far as we were concerned. It was fairly normal considering what was going on. The ballplayers just wanted to play ball—that was their main priority. That probably helped out because they weren’t distracted by the other things going on.
- What was your favorite ballpark in the Cal League to play in?
- Billy Hebert, because of the way the fans treated us.
- Who was the toughest opponent you faced?
- They were all tough, but we had the biggest rivalry with the Fresno Giants. They had a lot of players who made it to the Big Leagues. They were the toughest ones to overcome.
- What was Stockton like when you were with the Ports in 1963?
- It was a great city. It wasn’t too big and had good restaurants and great fans. It was outstanding, I really can’t say enough about it. Really great.
- What was the best part about winning the 1963 California League Championship Title?
- The fact that it was my first pennant managing in the Minor Leagues. I went on to win others, but there’s something about winning the first one. I’ll always have a great memory of that.
- During your time with Stockton, was there a major league baseball player that you looked up to? Modeled your playing after?
- My idol was always Ted Williams. I finally got to meet him in 1969 when I was coaching for the Royals. After that, I had good sessions talking to him. He was left-handed and I was left-handed and that was probably the only thing we had in common.
- Where do you currently reside?
- Elk Grove
- What major league team do you currently follow?
- I don’t have any real favorites. As a ballplayer, you followed the team you were with. Now I follow all the teams, but I prefer the National League. I still like not having a Designated Hitter. Even though I was in the American League, I like the National League style better.
- My wife, Joanne, and I have three kids (Laura, Dave, and Susan) and nine grandchildren.
- Did you ever make it back to Stockton after you were finished playing for the Ports?
- Yes, quite a few times.
- Have you followed the Ports at all since you were on the team?
- Absolutely. You always follow the teams you had something to do with. I always look in the paper to see how they’re doing.
- Do you keep in touch with any of your 1963 teammates? If so, whom?
- I saw most of the players who made it to the Bigs when I was coaching. But even for them, it’s been years. I lost contact with most of them, so it will be great to see whoever shows up at the Alumni Night. I heard that John Hogg is planning on being there. Before they even recorded saves as a statistic, he was a guy who pitched in 53 games in 1963 and probably saved about 40. We always put him in when we had the lead and he completed the win. He was an outstanding player in the club and I would love to see him again.
- What are you doing now after baseball?
- I’m in retirement. I play golf, the wife and I travel, and we take cruises. We enjoy our kids and our grandkids growing up. It’s nice.
- What has been your biggest success in your career following your time with Stockton?
- Being able to coach for 20 years in the Major Leagues, especially being part of one World Series and two All-Star games.
- If you could give any piece of advice to current Ports players, what would it be?
- If you really want to be a big leader, follow the rules and dedicate yourself to being the best you can be with your God-given tools. With hard work and dedication, maybe you can make it.
- Final thoughts…
- 1963 was just an outstanding year and we all enjoyed it very much. The people of Stockton did too, because I think it had been 18 years since they won a pennant. They were great fans and they supported us, even though I don’t know the attendance from back then. Sometimes we had problems with Billy Hebert Field since we shared it with University of the Pacific. Sometimes it was tough having extra workouts when the players wanted to spend more time working on their skills because the park was getting so much use. But in the end, it all worked out for the best. It was a fantastically great year.