All Grown Up: The Most Memorable Bryce Harper Moments

Ben Krimmel
September 25, 2018 - 5:32 pm
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Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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On Wednesday night, Bryce Harper will play his 472nd home game at Nationals Park.

“If I walk into Nats Park as a visiting player?” Harper said Monday, per The Washington Post. “That’s weird. And who wants to see that? That’s really weird.”

For seven seasons, Harper has been the face of the franchise and one of the best players in the National League. These are the moments that will come to define his time in Washington.

Harper Debut – April 2012
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft came to the plate for the third time on April 28, 2012 looking for his first big league hit. Harper lined a shot to the wall in center field and on his way to second, knocked an already falling helmet off his head. Adding a go-ahead sac fly in the 9th inning, Harper kicked off his NL Rookie of the Year campaign.

Clown Question, Bro – May 2012
When asked by a reporter if he wanted to celebrate a 438-foot home run by taking advantage of Canada’s lower drinking age with a beer, the then 19-year-old Harper responded infamously: “That’s a clown question, bro.”

Harper Runs into the Wall in LA – May 2013
Chasing an A.J. Ellis line-drive, Harper ran face-first at full speed into the right field wall. Ellis ended up at third, and harper ended up with11 stiches under his chin. This was the second time in two years that Harper collided with the wall in Los Angeles, after doing so in his second big league game.

“He’s not worried about the wall or anything,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He should know it’s on the warning track and back off, but that’s not his nature. I don’t want to change that. I feel sorry for the wall if he keeps running into them.”

Matt Williams Benching – April 2014
“It was the inability to run 90 feet – lack of hustle,” manager Matt Williams said. “He had to come out of the game. We made an agreement, his teammates made an agreement: When we play the game… we hustle at all times. We play the game with intensity, with willingness to win.”

“I respect what he did,” Harper said. And with that, the Nats’ star was benched, for lack of hustle.

Disrespects the ‘A’ in Atlanta – August 2014
Harper, walking to the left-hand batter’s box, drags his foot across the Braves’ ‘A’ behind home plate and scuffs the logo. This upset a great many people in Atlanta. “That’s the last thing on my mind when I’m walking up to the plate. I really had no idea,” Harper said. “I had no idea why that was such a big deal. Of course, that’s the last thing on my mind.”

Harper: “Where’s my ring?” – February 2015
After the Nationals signed free agent Max Scherzer before the 2015 season, Harper said, “I was like, ‘Where’s my ring.’”

"I'm excited to get going this year and do the things I need to do to bring a title back to D.C. and hoist that trophy over the monuments," Harper said. 

Papelbrawl – September 2015
The day after the Nats were eliminated from postseason contention, Jonathan Papelbon took exception to Bryce Harper not running-out a pop-fly in the bottom of the eighth inning of a tie game. Despite the season being over, the two began to bark at each other, before Papelbon lunged for Harper’s throat. A short brouhaha ensued before the two were separated by teammates. Papelbon would be suspended for the rest of the season.

Unanimous MVP – November 2015
A few weeks after the Papelbon fracas, Harper was named the Most Valuable Player of the National League. Harper, who batted .330 with a league-leading 42 homers and drove in 99 runs, was the unanimous choice. In May that year, Harper hit three home runs in his first three at-bats against the Marlins’ Tom Koehler, becoming the youngest player in baseball to accomplish that feat.

Harper: Don’t Sell Me Short – February 2016
In an interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, Harper talked about the possibility of a $400 million contract. “Yeah, I mean I don’t really think about that stuff. I just try to play the years out and do everything I can to help my team win,” Harper said. “But don’t sell me short. That’s what you’re doing right now to me, so don’t do that.”

Make Baseball Fun Again – April 2016
One of the showier players in the most buttoned-up American sport had a simple message written onto a white trucker’s hat: Make Baseball Fun Again. Harper wants baseball to loosen up. He told ESPN The Magazine during the 2015 offseason that "baseball is tired ... because you can't express yourself.” Times in baseball were changing and Harper wants to lead the charge to help the sport cut loose.

Hunter Strickland Fight – May 2017
Upset about a pair of home runs Harper hit during the 2014 NLDS, Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland threw a 98-MPH fastball into Harper’s hip. Naturally, Harper charged the mound, taking off his helmet and wildly throwing toward Strickland, before the two exchanged punches. The Memorial Day brawl resulted in a concussion for Giants outfielder Michael Morse, which ended his career, a four-game suspension for Harper, and six games for Strickland.

Golden Knights Jersey – June 2018
Standing in a box at Capital One Arena before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final was Las Vegas native Harper wearing a Vegas Golden Knights jersey. "It's a little less than classy, in my opinion," Eric Bickel of The Sports Junkies said. "But you know what? You do you. We're only going to have to deal with you for a few more months anyway." The Caps won the game 6-2 and took a 3-1 series lead en route to winning the Stanley Cup.

Home Run Derby – July 2018
Wearing a D.C. flag bandana and an American flag sleeve on his right arm, Harper gave Nationals fans one final moment of magic with a frantic final round in which he hit nine homers in 10 swings to win the home run derby. The victory, not without a bit of faux-controversy, may be the last (individual) trophy Harper will raise in Washington.