CURVE, Pa. – When Josh Harrison arrived in Altoona in 2010, he and his teammates had high expectations for the season. The team included a talented roster, with many players who had won a championship the previous season with Lynchburg in the Carolina League.
It was Harrison’s first full season with the Pirates organization after being traded from the Cubs late in 2009.
“Coming to Altoona was pretty cool,” Harrison said. “I was traded over the year before and I had a chance to play with quite a few of the guys in High-A and we won a championship in Lynchburg.
“With Altoona, I got a chance to be there from the beginning of the season. Right away we gelled together. It showed throughout the course of the season and as we progressed through the minor leagues.”
In 2010, Harrison played alongside Jordy Mercer, Chase d’Arnaud, Matt Hague, Hector Gimenez, Alex Presley, Andrew Lambo, Jared Hughes, Justin Wilson, Rudy Owens, Jeff Locke, Tony Watson and more as the Curve put together one of the most memorable seasons in franchise history.
“I remember walking up to the locker room and everybody being excited,” Harrison said. “Double-A is that step where you feel that much closer to the big leagues. For a lot of us, that was a lot of excitement.”
Right off the bat, the Curve found themselves on the national stage. After winning their first three games, they faced phenom prospect Stephen Strasburg in his professional debut on April 11.
“I remember the first few days it was like 25 degrees and snowy,” Harrison said. “The day he pitched, it was like 70 and sunny. So, in that regards, it was a beautiful day for baseball. It was a good atmosphere that day.”
With a crowd of over 7,800 fans and a national television audience, the Curve put up four runs against Strasburg over the first four innings.
“it’s definitely something we still remember because he had a lot of hype around him,” Harrison said.
The Curve dropped that game, 6-4, but did go on to post an 82-60 record in the regular season to win their second-ever division title.
Harrison bounced between second and third base that season on the field. He went on to knock 156 hits, tied for the fourth-most in a single season in Curve history. He also set the record for the most doubles in a game with four on June 27 against Bowie. He was selected as an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star.
The Curve reached the Eastern League Championship Series and faced Trenton, going up against rehabbing major leaguer Andy Pettitte in the first game. They lost in a close game, 3-2, but that would be the team’s last loss of the season.
The Curve went on to win the series, three games to one, to solidify the first championship in franchise history. After hitting just four home runs in the regular season, Harrison homered three times and drove in seven runs in his eight playoff games.
“We were out there trying to win a championship,” Harrison said. “There was a good atmosphere that whole playoff run.”
Harrison hit .300 over his 135 regular-season games. Even with his strong season, he remained on the edges of the prospect radars. He was named as Baseball America’s No. 30 Pirates prospect after the season ended.
He went on to make his major league debut with the Pirates on May 31, 2011 against the Mets, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. He was selected as a National League All-Star in 2014 and 2017.
Over his first seven years in the big leagues with the Pirates, Harrison posted a career .281 batting average entering 2018.
Last fall, Harrison was named as the second baseman on the Fans’ Choice All-Time Curve Team. The Curve will honor his time in Altoona with his Fans’ Choice All-Time Curve Team bobblehead giveaway to the first 1,000 fans on Saturday at PNG Field, presented by Home Helpers.