The All-Star week was a memorable experience for Nats star Bryce Harper. He went 0-for-2 in his fifth start in the All-Star Game, but got to play outfield for the National League in Nationals Park. He was heard in-game complimenting Mike Trout after his home run. The American League beat the NL 8-6 in 10 innings.
Fans will remember Harper’s Home Run Derby championship Monday night, when he hit nine straight homers in about 55 seconds to topple Kyle Schwarber, 19-18, in the final round and win the title.
Afterwards, Harper got emotional in describing what it is like to share all this with his family, but also the stadium and parking personnel he sees each day, and how he won the Derby for them too.
“(T)hat’s the kid you see out there tonight, and I was fortunate to share that with you guys and show that to the fans,” Harper said. “This wasn’t only for me and my family and everybody like that, but this is for, you know, the cook, the guy that works the front, and the people that work upstairs. I mean, this is the whole city of D.C. I was very fortunate to be able to bring this back to them and do it here.”
There was talk all week about the possibility of Harper moving on to one of the other teams represented at the All-Star Game. But Harper let the world know how important his relationship with his new manager, Davey Martinez, is to him, and how that could play a role in keeping him in D.C.
“I mean, that’s what it’s all about, I woke up this (Monday) morning and, talking to my wife I was like, I just want to enjoy it, win, lose or draw. That’s all I can ask for, and to have the crowd show up like they did and to have the support of my family, like I said, and my D.C. family, and Dave Martinez out there fired up as all get-up.
“I have one of the best managers in all the baseball, glad to have him at our helm. He’s a guy I would run through a brick wall for, and I was trying to do that for him tonight.”
Harper also spoke about the Nats’ current situation, steady at 48-48, five games out of first place with 66 games to play. Could this Home Run Derby win boost his play and his team’s play in the second half of the season?
“I think, as a team, I think you know we can do a lot better as a group, as a whole,” Harper said. “And personally, of course, I want to be hitting .300 and driving in runs and stuff like that.
“I feel like whatever I’ve got at the break, I’m fortunate to be there, and I think, as a team, we need to keep going and keep grinding. Five and a half at the break, we’re fortunate to be there.”
And Bryce thought this was his first Home Run Derby title. Turns out it was not his first.
Ron Harper reminded his son that he had won a home run derby before, the King of Swat in Cooperstown, N.Y., as an 11-year-old.
“We’ve seen it,” Ron Harper said. “We know you can get on that kind of a roll, but I said to him - he played in a lot of tournaments and there’s one in Cooperstown, Dreams Park. They bring in a hundred teams every month or every week, and these guys, they play a boatload of games. And it’s from ages 10, 11, 12 or something, and he won the 12-year-old home run contest at 11, and that’s when I told him, I loved what I just saw.”
“I forgot,” said Bryce Harper. “Totally forgot that. That was pretty cool, too.”
PHOTO BY WILL and BILL HALLADA