“The reaction that I got from a lot of people back home when I told them that I was going to be a Dayton Dragons coach, let alone manager, was incredible,” Harrison Jr. said. “The excitement that I’ve received from other people knowing that I’m going to be in this position has enhanced my excitement about here.”
Harrison, the older brother of veteran major-leaguer and two-time All-Star Josh Harrison, graduated as a three-sport star from Cincinnati Princeton High School in 1997. He got a taste of being close to home last year as a coach with the Reds’ Class AAA team in Louisville.
After playing baseball and football at Kentucky and nine years playing in the minors, he has been a hitting coach and manager since 2012. He managed Kane County to a Midwest League division title in 2019 and managed at the High-A level in the Northwest League in 2021 and 2022.
Harrison Jr. is happy that his wife Ericka can get his 8-year-old twin daughters Avery and Hayden and 6-year-old son Trey off the school bus and come to a Dragons game.
“My biggest excitement for this year, other than being able to work here, is to be able to have my family attend a lot of games,” he said. “They’ll be able to come without making a plan. We’ve always had to make a plan to try to see each other.”
Garman, who grew up in Wapakoneta and played college ball at Cincinnati with Josh Harrison, coached the Dragons’ pitchers in 2021 and 2022. Ten of them have already pitched in the majors.
“I’ve been blessed to be a part of a pitching department that I think has started to figure some things out,” Garman said. “We are truly developing from within.”
Garman was the pitching coach last year for the Reds’ Class AA team in Chattanooga, but he requested a return to Dayton because his wife is due with their second child in March.
“We are in unique situations where we are less than an hour from home, and we work inside of professional baseball,” Garman said. “And so the opportunity to be close I don’t think can be overstated. I had a great year in Chattanooga in terms of an experience and the players that we had come through, but being close to home is going to be vital for me.”
While Garman got to know Josh Harrison well as a college teammate, he didn’t get to know Vince well until spring training last year when their lockers were across from each other. Harrison Jr. loves how his baseball experience has come full circle with the Harrison family.
“I got a chance to talk with Brian, and I know his intentions, I know his passion, I know his history,” Harrison Jr. said. “So to be able to work with somebody with some familiarity it is exciting for me.”
Garman said, “I’m excited about the Harrison family experience yet again.”
In addition to being close to home, Harrison Jr. looks forward to home games in front of bigger crowds than what he’s used to.
“I get goosebumps for big crowds,” he said. “I played in some places I won’t mention, but I can remember counting 30, 40 people in the crowd, being very far away from home. And now to know that you can show up here on a Tuesday or Wednesday in April and it’s 40 degrees and its probably still half full. ... I know what it did for me as a player, and I still get excited about that as a coach because crowd energy is a thing.”