Top Mariners prospect Harry Ford shares highlights from memorable WBC

Mar 21, 2023, 11:51 AM

Mariners Harry Ford...

Mariners prospect Harry Ford of Team Great Britain reacts after hitting a home run on March 12, 2023. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

There were many Mariners who played in this year’s World Baseball Classic, and one who stole the show was Harry Ford, the team’s top prospect who hasn’t played a game above A-ball yet.

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The 20-year-old catcher was Great Britain’s top player in the tournament, blasting two home runs in pool play. Those home runs combined with Great Britain’s celebrations with a crown and cape naturally led to some fun nicknames for the 2021 first-round pick.

“I get a lot of Prince Harrys, King Harrys, Sir. A lot of prefixes, yeah,” Ford said Monday to Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob, who are broadcasting live from Mariners spring training in Arizona this week.

Ford, a self-proclaimed “baseball nerd,” had an awesome time playing in the World Baseball Classic, and he said that playing in the same pool as a star-studded Team USA didn’t overwhelm him like he thought.

“It was a little more realistic than I imagined, like being in a real game and just being a competitor and stuff and not like in a fairytale dream,” he said. “In my head, I kind of imagined it like the Dream Team that (Team USA Basketball) had with like Magic (Johnson) and Larry Bird. I kind of imagined it like playing against that, but it didn’t feel like that when I was there. It just felt like a real game. The coolest part was just seeing all the support from the fans and just all the people at the game and stuff and knowing how much it meant to people.”

While at least one media personality has called the WBC “meaningless” following injuries to players signed to MLB rosters, Ford and others don’t see it that way at all.

“It’s a different style of baseball because here when it’s spring training or just like in the season, some games can feel like they don’t count or something and like they’re just strolling along,” he said. “But when it’s only four games and you’ve gotta win every game, it doesn’t really matter if you get a hit or not, it just matters how you win the game, you know? And it’s pride, too. Pride for your country, pride for your teammates and everything.”

On top of the personal achievements Ford had during the World Baseball Classic, he got to meet his childhood hero during the action.

While Ford played for Great Britain because both of his parents were born in England, he is from Georgia and grew up an Atlanta Braves fan. His favorite player was first baseman Freddie Freeman, who starred for Team Canada, which was in Great Britain’s pool. That meant Ford got to go head-to-head with the former MVP.

“Oh, yeah, that was a crazy one for me. That was really cool,” Ford said.

And what made it even sweeter was that Freeman knew who Ford was.

“I was kind of surprised. He was like, ‘What’s up, Harry?’ And I was like, ‘Whoa,'” Ford said. “I actually wanted to talk to him, but it was like, ‘OK, I gotta try and get you out, so we can’t really talk.’ But it was really cool seeing him.”

Aside from Freeman being a star for the Braves, why was he Ford’s guy growing up?

“He was the first person I got a signed ball from. I was 8 years old and I saw him in spring training,” he said. “It was pretty cool to see him on the field this time.”

With Great Britain eliminated following pool play, Ford is back with the Mariners at spring training. He also was with the team before leaving for the WBC. So what has spring training been like for the young catcher?

“It’s been awesome. I mean, a lot of highs for sure,” he said. “I’ve just been able to spend a lot of time with the team and get to know them and just learn from them really, especially (from) the catchers. I’ve learned a lot just from watching and talking to them, and seeing them in-game. I mean, it’s been a blessing and a really good experience for me.”

Two players have helped Ford the most this spring.

“So many of them have helped me a lot, but I think the person I’ve probably looked up the most to has been Cal (Raleigh), I’d say,” Ford said. “He’s such a good catcher and a good dude, too. He just kind of does everything right … And also Murphy, Tom Murphy. He’s taught me a lot, he’s talked to me a lot.”

Listen to the full interview with Ford at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story.

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