Bryce Harper says Nats fans' taunts crossed the line

Ben Krimmel
September 26, 2019 - 8:12 am

Former Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper had endured the taunts from his former fans throughout the season and said and did next to nothing.

That was until the eighth inning Wednesday at Nationals Park when he reached his thumb behind him and pointed to the name on the back of his jersey. After the game, Harper said the taunts crossed the line.

“They were fine all game, talking about myself and things like that,” Harper said. “I get it everywhere I go. That’s nothing new. But the last two innings, it’s just not right. It’s not right.”

Harper didn't elaborate about what was said specifically but said he is looking forward to returning to Philadelphia.

“Like I said the whole time, I’ve got 60,000 fans up in Philly that appreciate (me) as a player, appreciate me as an individual and my family as well,” he said. “I owe a lot to those people up there in Philly because they show up for me every single night and they’re there to cheer us on and boo us and keep us going as a team and as individuals as well. I’m looking forward to the next 12 years. Can’t wait.”

Harper's wife, Kayla, tweeted Thursday morning indicating the taunts were about Harper's family and his four-week-old son.

“Like I said, it’s part of sports and that’s how it is nowadays," Harper said after the game. "Individually you go out there and don’t really worry about what they’re saying. But there are times, it’s just not good and just not right. Everybody has a platform now whether it’s Twitter, Instagram or in the stands. They kind of say whatever they want and that’s just how it is. You kind of have to live with it. You see it in the NBA, you see it in the NFL and you see it here now and I guess it is just part of sports now.”

After the game, Harper said he understood heckling is a part of baseball and sports. 

“I feel like that everywhere I go,” Harper said. “I just want to play. That’s how I’ve always been. Of course, there have been times I haven’t ran out baseballs and things like that. I’ve slacked and things. That’s part of it. But every single night I come out here, my team deserves that, my city, Philadelphia, deserves that and the great fan base we have up there."

Harper, who played the first seven years of his career as the face of the Nationals franchise, signed a 13-year, $330 million deal before Philadelphia. 

When Harper made his return to Washington in April, he was booed with each at-bat and fans wearing shirts that spelled 'traitor' greeted him in right field. Harper hit a 458-home run in his first game back at Nats Park, a Phillies win.

Of the taunts in April, he said, "For me, that's part of sports, part of the game."

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