After undergoing a bone marrow transplant in 2016, Carlisle High School grad and current Washington Nationals assistant general manager and vice president Doug Harris relied on friends and family to eventually return to the game he loved.
In his time of need, he discovered the relationships he forged with people in and outside of baseball delivered an overwhelming show of support.
“I had four different stints where I had to stay at Hershey (Medical Center),” Harris told The Sentinel in March. “I don’t think there was a day that went by that somebody didn’t come.”
Minor league players and coaching staff members stopped to visit. Front office personnel and coordinators made the trek to the Midstate to sit with their friend while he received treatment.
“It’s very humbling,” Harris said. “It’s a difficult process for anybody to go through, but I was very blessed with my faith and my family and friends.”
Now Harris needs that support again — the leukemia has returned and Harris needs a doctor-recommended CAR T-cell therapy, which is still in trial research, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network reported Friday. The treatment is expensive and not covered by health insurance, according to the MASN report, so Harris’ wife, Lisa, set up a GoFundMe page Wednesday to try to offset the cost, hoping to raise $400,000 for the treatment. As of Sunday night, 332 donations had raised $44,951.
The message on the Harris’ GoFundme page reads:
“Thank you for viewing our site dedicated to helping Doug Harris. Doug is not only my supportive husband but a great father of three daughters and has helped so many young athletes obtain their goals in professional baseball. Doug is currently the V.P. and Assistant GM for the Washington Nationals and has been diagnosed with leukemia. Although previously treated with a bone marrow transplant the disease was not completely eliminated and now Doug has the opportunity to benefit greatly from a new cutting-edge treatment called CAR-T Cell [sic] therapy.
“The results of this therapy have been extraordinary and it was recommended by one of the highest regarded physicians in the world from Sloan Kettering that Doug should pursue this treatment. Unfortunately the Treatment is currently in trial research and not available to Doug under the trial guidelines. This makes obtaining this treatment a very costly proposition and that’s where we are asking for your help. We need to raise approximately $400,000 to pay for this treatment and hope you would consider helping by donating to Doug’s cause through this Go Fund ME website.”
Harris is a 1987 graduate from Carlisle High School, where he played baseball for head coach Harry Mundorff. He played college ball at James Madison University before the Kansas City Royals drafted him as a pitcher in the fourth round in 1990. In 1991 he was named the Royals’ minor league player of the year and vaulted to the No. 3-ranked prospect for the Kansas City organization according to Baseball America.
But a shoulder injury derailed Harris’ playing career, leading him down a path to front office jobs, working for the Royals and Texas Rangers organizations for more than 12 years before joining the Nationals as director of player development in 2010.
Current Nationals director of player development Mark Scialabba has worked with Harris for many years and talked about Harris’ impact with the Nationals in the MASN story.
“Doug Harris has positively impacted the lives of a countless number of Nationals and baseball prospects over the years through the player development process both on the field and off the field as they grow and progress into young men,” Scialabba told MASN. “Doug is a role model as a husband and father, and leader of the Nationals organization for me. He is an extremely valuable member of the front office and the player development staff.”
On Sunday morning, former NFL quarterback Sage Rosenfels criticized the Nationals on Twitter for for what he apparently sees as a lack of sufficient support for Harris and his family.