Harrison's uncle is John (T-Bone) Shelby, former Major League outfielder for the Dodgers and Orioles.
In 2001, Josh's brother, Vince, was drafted by Tampa Bay in the 13th round. He got as high as Double-A Montgomery before playing in the independent Northern League. Vince Harrison played minor league baseball from 2001-2011, before joining the Pirates organization as a player-coach.
- Harrison was named co-Big East Conference player of the year after hitting .378 with 22 steals.
After coming to the Pirates organization midway through the 2009 season, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Josh as the 29th-best prospect in the Pirates' farm system in the spring of 2010. He was at #30 in the winter before 2011 spring training.
- Harrison was assigned to play for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League after the 2010 season ended. And he hit .330.
- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, before Josh's big league debut at the end of May 2011, described Harrison as a person of strong character from a "great family background."
"He's a great kid with a lot of energy," Hurdle said. "He's the kind of guy who can move the ball around, hits it hard where it's pitched. He can bunt and hit-and-run. He's a ballplayer."
Walk-Up Music: Harrison uses music made by his brother, Shaun Harrison.
July 11, 2014: As waves of reporters passed in front of his locker, Harrison couldn't stop smiling. It was the contented smile of a young man who, theoretically, left the Queen City of Cincinnati years ago to cut his baseball teeth and came home as a National League All-Star in 2014 in Minnesota.
"It's always nice to come back home," said Harrison, who obviously makes frequent stops in the rival NL Central city. "But now, it's been amazing. I've had to clear my phone several times since last night, so many people were calling and texting me.
"Everybody's leaving the message, 'Hey, I'm coming to the game to see you. Look for me in the stands.'"
Harrison again started in absent Starling Marte's place in left field and batted second, meaning an early opportunity to take in the warm welcome he figured to be accorded by the hometown Great American Ball Park. (Tom Singer MLB.com, 7/11/2014)
Josh's family has had to deal with a bit of a conflict of interest. After being born and raised in Cincinnati, their son has found his niche in the Major Leagues, with the Pittsburgh Pirates. So when the Reds and Pirates square off, a fairly frequent occurrence as NL Central rivals, Harrison's family and friends have a choice to make.
"It's not as bad as you would think," Harrison said. "I know Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, the cities, just from football and everything, had a little rivalry. But you know going back, it's a lot of proud people. They might be Reds fans, but when we come in town they at least throw on the Pirates hat. So it's pretty cool to go back to Cincinnati playing for the Pirates and still have the support.
"My immediate family roots for the Pirates," he said. "They're all Pirates. But people I went to high school with, you know, that grew up Reds fans—they'll still be Reds fans. But when we play them, they're like, 'Well, if we got to lose to anybody …' They don't mind, just because I'm associated with the Pirates. It's kind of a win-win for me because I'm kind of converting some people to maybe being Pirates fans." (Zahneis - mlb.com - 7/15/14)
In 2014, Harrison was named the Bucs' winner of the Heart & Hustle Award, presented since 2005 by the MLB Players Alumni Association to the player on each of the 30 clubs who "demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit, and tradition of the game." (7/22/14)
The Pirates value Harrison because he can play almost every position. What they couldn't have known is that he would become one of their most valuable players during the 2014 season. When manager Clint Hurdle began giving Harrison chances to play, he took advantage of them, starting games at five different positions. He was named to the National League All-Star team. (Justice - mlb.com - 8/25/14)
2014 Season: Harrison was grateful for the recognition that came his way, from all corners. It began in June, when his manager, Clint Hurdle, recognized his virtues and turned him into a third baseman.
In July, a rival manager, St. Louis's Mike Matheny, turned him into a National League All-Star. Then, in November, fellow and former players bestowed upon him the Major League Baseball Players Association's national Heart & Hustle Award, which annually goes to someone who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit, and traditions of the game.
Harrison's daughter Mia was born to Josh's wife Brittney on Feb. 11, 2014.
In the spring of 2015, Corey Hart, forefather of the beard movement, says Josh will have the Pirates' best beard.
Before baseball beards began spanning the globe, spreading across the faces of big league players like a fuzzy, invasive plant, Corey Hart was sprouting one. As a forefather of the movement, possessing what he calls "one of the first beards in the game," he knows he belongs on the "Mount Rushmore of beards ... next to Abe Lincoln up there."
Because of his historical role in the game, Hart is the best person to judge which Pirates' player will have the better beard at the end of the year: Pedro Alvaraz or Josh Harrison?
While Alvarez might have the edge, he sees Harrison taking the award. Said the right fielder "It may take [Harrison] a while to grow, I don't know if he's got the fast grow. But I think Pedro may cut it before the season's over with." (Michael Clair - MLB.com - March 20, 2015)
Josh looks for opportunities to get on base, score, do anything to win a game.
"Harrison does things that you see for the first time quite often. Today, I thought the pitcher had a play, then the pitcher doesn't have a play, and Josh was dusting off at second base," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "That's the kind of game he plays. He's a backyard ballplayer.
"Whenever he takes the field, he's looking to make something happen. He was ready to make a play out of the batter's box." (Berry - MLB.com - 3/13/16)
In 2017, Josh was chosen to represent the USA in the World Baseball Classic.
May 12, 2017: If Josh Harrison isn't my favorite Major League Baseball player, he's either 1b or 1c, and I say this for several reasons. He's full of energy during every Pirates game. For verification, watch him in the middle of a "pickle." He's durable, since he barely flinched after getting plunked by pitches earlier this season on four consecutive at-bats.
Harrison is the consummate clubhouse leader, and here's all you need to know about that: You ask him a question, and he'll give you his straightforward answer. He's also efficient at the plate, especially this 2017 season.
The more I think about it, I'm a charter member of Harrison's fan club, mostly because of this -- second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field. Those are all of the positions he has played for the Pirates during his seven seasons in the Major Leagues, and I didn't even mention that he once took the mound to help the team in a pinch.
"I definitely like it this way, man," Harrison said, always accommodating, referring to the splendid truth, which is that his solid frame of 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds is ready to move without hesitation on defense for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle during a given season, month, week, game or even inning. "You know, I was blessed and fortunate to be able to have an impact by being able to play all of these different positions."
"Bouncing around is fun, but at the end of the day, I like it a lot better just focusing on one position, so you're getting some consistency," Harrison said. "It's not that I don't like playing the other positions. When I first came up [in 2011 to the Major Leagues], I primarily played third base, but then I started to play everywhere else in a kind of 'get in where you fit in' role. Anybody would want to play one position every day, but I don't mind switching.
"I see, and I love it. In case you're wondering, Harrison has one glove for all of his infield positions, and one for either left or right. He does have backup gloves for both of his main ones "just in case the webbing breaks or something, but when it comes to gloves, I'm comfortable with what I got," Harrison said.
"The only position that would require me to use a different glove than the ones I have would be first base. That is, if I'm ever asked to play that position. "Stay tuned. Chances are, Harrison at first for the Pirates is coming, and who's to say he couldn't catch or play center. Which makes you wonder: Why did coaches during his youth and managers throughout his professional career decide he had the physical and mental skills to become an everyman on defense? "Uh, to tell you the truth, I don't know why it started," Harrison said.
"I guess we were short in other areas for the teams I've played for through the years, and I'm probably the one that they felt was the best equipped to play a new position during those times. So that always helped me to play right away, like when I went to college. Everybody's coming from high school, where they were the starting shortstop or the starting center fielder. When you get to college, you've got to be able to contribute, and since I played different positions, it helped me to be able to contribute every night." (T Moore - MLB.com - May 12, 2017)
June 2008: Josh signed with the Cubs for a bonus of $144,500 after they chose him in the 6th round, out of the Univerisity of Cincinnati.
July 30, 2009: The Pirates sent lefthanded pitchers John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Cubs; acquiring Harrison, righthander Kevin Hart, and RHP Jose Ascanio.
April 9, 2015: Harrison and the Pirates agreed on a four-year contract worth $27.3 million. His new deal includes a pair of club options that reportedly will bring the total to $48.3 million if they're both exercised.