Milton Harper with the Wei Chuan Dragons
Three Batter Minimum

Three Batter Minimum: The Curious Case of Milton Harper

Not all baseball stories are good baseball stories. Some are awful with a dash of morbidity and confusion tossed into the mix. That’s the best way I can think of to describe the end of Milton Harper’s career and life. The two are intertwined but in reality, not much is known about how his life actually ended and that leaves us with nothing but rampant speculation

I only recently learned anything about Harper. Thanks to your buddy and mine, Rob from CPBL Stats, sending out this tweet,

Seeing as I’ve been a big fan of the Chinese Professional Baseball League since around 2015-2016 it’s not a huge surprise that I don’t know much about Harper. He only played in Taiwan’s premier league for three seasons, 1991-1993. In that stretch, he played for the Uni-President Lions and Wei Chuan Dragons. He was quite good throughout his limited time in the league. On October 16, 1993, his career and life came to an end as a result of what the Taiwanese police ruled a suicide.

This story piqued my morbid curiosity because it is a baseball happening and none of the details surrounding Harper’s passing seem to quite add up. What we do know actually adds up to quite a lot. Unfortunately without the facts needed to tie all of it together the lot that we do know ends up meaning very little. Here’s what we do know based on various reports,

  • Amphetamines were found in Harper’s system. This doesn’t really tell us much as baseball players were regularly using amphetamines up until the late 1990s.
  • The police ruled Harper’s death a suicide as the result of a jump from a 14 story building.
  • The building that Harper jumped from belonged to one of his teammates on the Dragons, Darrell Brown. You may recall Brown as he was a former major leaguer. Brown would leave the CPBL and Taiwan shortly after Harper’s death.
  • Earlier in the day, he had an altercation with a few of his teammates, all of who were foreign players and included the aforementioned Brown..
  • A few days before his death he had contacted his brother stating that he was fearing for his life. When that brother arrived in Taiwan following Harper’s death, he immediately sought police protection.
  • A couple of years after Harper’s death the CPBL would be subject to massive game-fixing scandals where it was revealed that the Taiwanese mob had been involved in helping to fix CPBL games. It’s believed that this mob-related game-fixing was taking place during and well before Harper’s days in the league.
  • Where Harper landed did not align with someone who had jumped from the apartment in question, but rather someone who had been thrown from the building.

I’m not an investigative journalist and I’m not writing about Harper today to declare that he didn’t actually commit suicide. I have my own thoughts on the matter based on everything I have read, but sharing those thoughts would help absolutely no one. My interest in Harper’s death was borne out of a morbid curiosity towards the dark underside of the baseball world. Regardless of whether he was murdered or committed suicide, the end of Harper’s life remains one of baseball’s greatest oddities.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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