Harvey Pulliam fondly remembers his days as a major league outfielder with the Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies organizations where he spent parts of six seasons. One of the best athletes ever to come out of San Francisco, Pulliam now quenches his competitive urges fishing Delta bass tournaments.
Pulliam was a baseball/basketball standout at McAteer High School and was drafted by the Royals in the third round of the 1986 amateur draft. Five years later he made it to the big leagues where he compiled a career batting average of .262 with eight home runs. Two of those homers came in a single game during his rookie year – one left the yard, the other was an inside-the-park job.
Growing up in the City, Pulliam spent free time fishing the Bay and Lake Merced. “When we were younger we would catch a bus, get some bait and go to Pier 7 and catch whatever was biting,” Pulliam said.
Pulliam became hooked on hooking bass with his late cousin, Derek Crenshaw. The two would go to the Delta in their early adult years and walk the banks, casting for bass and catfish. Eventually Crenshaw bought a boat and used it to ply the Delta for trophy largemouth.
When baseball pulled Pulliam away from the Delta, he utilized the plentiful down time to fish nearby ponds and lakes. During a two-year stint in Japan toward the end of his career, one of Pulliam’s teammates showed him a local pond where he would escape to catch-and-release 12-inch bass. It brought a piece of home to Pulliam while he was half a world away.
Now in his mid-40s, Pulliam lives in Brentwood with his wife and five daughters. He fishes bass tournaments on the weekends. “I love the Delta. That’s where I spend all my time,” Pulliam said. “Ten minutes from the house and I am on the water.”
Last month Pulliam and his partner, Phillip Dutra won the final event of the WON Bass Delta Teams circuit. The pair beat out 26 boats with a five fish limit of 22.83 pounds, highlighted by a 9.9-pound bass caught by Pulliam who was flipping less than an hour before weigh in.
Pulliam-Dutra won the even by more than six pounds and brought them a payout of $2,500.
The pressure of trying to catch fish isn’t quite the same as trying to hit a home run, but Pulliam admits the competitive juices get flowing during tournaments.
“The fishing does fill competitive voids but that wasn’t the driver to get into tournament fishing,” Pulliam said. “The fun was the driver. But the competitiveness comes out and you want to win. In fishing it’s hard because you’re chasing the fish here one day and they’re gone the next. In baseball if you can’t hit the slider you go to the cage and work on it. In fishing you don’t have the ability to put that time in on the water. You have one, two or three days to get it done and it’s over.”
Pulliam’s favorite tactic is flipping. He was flipping when he tied into the 9.90 pounder last month and flipping is how he caught his life-best 12-pound largemouth.
“I love flipping,” Pulliam said. “It’s my No. 1 go-to. You’re always in contact with everything and you can get that big bite at any time.”
Given the choice, would Pulliam rather flip for a 15 pound bass or flip a hanging curveball out of a major league stadium?
There wasn’t much of a pause.
“I still go back to my roots and hit that home run,” Pulliam said. “That was my dream.”
Keywords: Bass, Delta, Harvey Pulliam