He was in the midst of his best major league campaign, one where he would hit 17 home runs. One coming to extend a lead on a July night in Montreal, according to a wire account.
"He's always been a good ballplayer," Harper teammate Bob Horner told reporters. "The only difference now is he's finally getting playing time."
Harper got that playing time in his sixth major league season. He saw time in 138 total games that year for the Braves. Overall, Harper saw time in eight major league seasons, seeing time in at least 100 games in two of those years.
Harper's career began in 1973, taken by the Braves in the 16th round of the draft out of Douglas County High School in Georgia.
Harper started at rookie Wytheville. He made single-A Greenwood in 1974, then AA Savannah in 1977. He first saw AAA Richmond in 1978. Then, in 1980, Harper made Atlanta.
Harper got into 21 games for the Braves in 1980, hitting .185. He returned for 40 games in 1981 and 48 in 1982.
Harper got his first extended time in the majors in 1983. He got into 80 games and hit .264. He hit three home runs, one coming in a late-June win to end a personal slump, according to The Associated Press.
"He didn't hit the ball good," Braves manager Joe Torre told The AP afterward. "But the home run tonight was obviously the big blow."
Harper got into 40 games in 1984, then got into his 138 in 1985. He hit .264 and knocked in 72 that year. He then got into another 106 in 1986, hitting .257.
Harper returned to the majors for 1987, playing 67 games between the Tigers and the Pirates, ending his big league career.
Harper then got time in Japan in 1988, 10 games with Yakult. He went 5 for 35. He then turned to a brief career in coaching. In 1990, he served as a coach at AA Greenville. He didn't make the majors as a coach.
- Gadsden Times, Associated Press, June 1, 1983: Harper slugs Braves to win
- Palm Beach Post, wire service, Aug. 3, 1985: Harper Earning Respect
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,007
Made the Majors: 895-44.6%
Never Made Majors:1,112-55.4%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 382
10+ Seasons in the Minors:220