December 1, 2022

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Party at third! Willie Harris brings flair to Cubs HRs 

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This story was excerpted from Jordan Bastian’s Cubs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Before a recent game at Wrigley Field, Willie Harris pulled his phone out from his back pocket and started scrolling through his photo album. The Cubs third-base coach let out a laugh when he found the one on his mind and then turned the phone to show it off.

“Look how cool that is,” said Harris, smiling wide. “Is that not cool, though?”

The image showed Willson Contreras, both arms stretched out wide, looking skyward as he finished one of his home run trots. Over Contreras’ right shoulder is Harris, his arms also spread out, his head aimed upward, mirroring the catcher’s celebration. Cool, confirmed.

“It’s pretty sick,” Harris said of the photo. “I’ve got it printed and posted at my house.”

That is one within a growing list of home run celebrations that Harris has with Chicago’s players. There is the bow with star rookie Seiya Suzuki. There is also the leaping high-five with Patrick Wisdom. Harris and Ian Happ do a subtle low-five with their hands sliding downward. Jason Heyward likes to point at Harris’ shoes (always stylish).

“Those are just the ones you’ve seen,” Harris said. “There are more. Me and Clint Frazier have one, but he hasn’t gone deep, yet. When he does, that one will be pretty fun.”

Last season, Harris began mimicking Contreras’ personal celebration after turning, post-five, and seeing the catcher’s move. Harris said getting the timing right — where both spread their arms at the same time — can be tricky, because their backs are to one another. Contreras only knew about it after Harris showed him a photo.

“He loved it, man,” Harris said. “I saw him doing that and I was like, ‘OK, all right. I need to get on board with that.’”

During Spring Training this year, Harris discussed possible home run celebrations with Suzuki during a morning workout. They decided on the bow at third, but Suzuki put his own stamp on things by stopping around third base before finishing the trek home.

“When he hit the homer that day, I was like, ‘Man, I hope he remembers,’” Harris said. “It was cool. With Seiya, it was like, ‘Let’s bring some of his culture here to the North Side of Chicago.’ That’s how it came about.”

“It didn’t work out too well,” Harris joked. “When he hit his first homer the other night, we jumped and I realized, ‘Man, I’m not getting up there like I used to.’”

Wisdom has pushed Harris to the point that the third-base coach heard about it from his mom.

“My mom told me, ‘Who’s that guy you’re slapping hands with after the home run?’” Harris said with a laugh. “I’m like, ‘That’s P-Wizzy, mom.’ She’s like, ‘How tall is he, 6-5?’ I go, ‘No, he’s like 6-2, mom. But he can jump.’”

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