Harry Wayne Comer (February 3, 1944 – October 4, 2023) was a professional Major League Baseball outfielder who dedicated 13 seasons of his life to the sport. His career spanned from 1962 through 1974 and included stints with four major league teams, leaving an indelible mark on the game.
Harry Wayne Comer was born on February 3, 1944, in Shenandoah, Virginia. He was the son of Harry Junior Comer and Oneta Pearl Lucas Comer. Growing up in Shenandoah, he attended Page County High School, where he displayed his athleticism by actively participating in baseball, basketball, and football. Notably, he achieved the honor of being selected as an all-state player in football during his high school years.
Comer’s journey into professional baseball began in 1962 when he was signed by the Washington Senators as an amateur free agent. His debut season saw him playing for the Class-B Raleigh Capitals, where he batted .229 with three home runs and 28 runs batted in (RBI) in 78 games.
In March 1963, Comer was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Bobo Osborne. Over the years, he played for various minor league teams, including the Lakeland Tigers, Duluth–Superior Dukes, Montgomery Rebels, Syracuse Chiefs, and Toledo Mud Hens. During his minor league career, Comer showcased his skills, including his speed, with impressive stats such as leading the Southern League with 31 stolen bases in 1965.
In September 1967, Comer received the call-up to the major leagues, making his debut with the Detroit Tigers on September 17, 1967. During the 1968 season, he appeared in 48 games as a backup outfielder, achieving a .125 batting average with one triple, one home run, and 3 RBI in 48 at-bats.
Comer had a memorable moment in Game 3 of the 1968 World Series when he recorded a pinch-hit single off Joe Hoerner, achieving a perfect 1.000 World Series batting average.
Seattle Pilots and Milwaukee Brewers
In 1969, Comer joined the newly formed Seattle Pilots, and he became an everyday starter in the outfield. He excelled, leading the team in runs scored and ranking second in home runs. Comer also stole 18 bases, displaying both power and speed. His defensive skills were commendable, leading the American League in double plays turned as an outfielder and ranking second in outfield assists.
After a brief stint with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1970, Comer was traded to the Washington Senators in exchange for Hank Allen and Ron Theobald. He continued to contribute to his team’s efforts, playing in 77 games and maintaining a .233 batting average with 8 RBI.
Return to Detroit Tigers and Minor Leagues
Comer’s baseball journey led him back to the Detroit Tigers in 1971 after being purchased from the Senators. He spent the 1971 season with the Toledo Mud Hens before being called up by the Tigers for a portion of the 1972 season.
Following his time in the major leagues, Comer continued to play in the minor leagues, representing teams like the Mud Hens and the Reading Phillies.
Later Years and Family
After retiring from professional baseball, Harry Wayne Comer returned to Virginia. He took on the role of a baseball coach, making significant contributions to high school baseball. He served as the baseball coach at Spotswood High School, earning recognition as Coach of the Year in 2000. Later, he coached at Page County High School in Virginia from 2009 until 2023.
Comer’s personal life included his marriage to Joyce Nauman in January 1963, and they were blessed with three sons: Timothy Wayne (born 1965), Paul Allen (born 1968), and Shaun Christopher (born 1980).
On October 4, 2023, the baseball world received the sad news of Harry Wayne Comer’s passing. He left behind a legacy of dedication and contributions to the sport, remembered by baseball enthusiasts and his family as a true sportsman who gave his all to the game he loved.