BRYCE HARPER - ON TRACK TO GREATNESS
By Jeff Alexander
If Bryce Harper lives up to his potential and ultimately fulfills his own and everybody else’s expectations, he certainly won’t be the first athlete to rise from the fields of Las Vegas to stardom at the professional level, but he’ll be the latest to do so. Some others that quickly come to mind are: Andre Agassi, well-known throughout the world as one of the greatest tennis players of all time to step on the courts; Steven Jackson, who rose from Vegas high school football and recently signed a huge 44 million dollar contract to run for the St. Louis Rams; and of course, Greg Maddux, one of baseball’s all-time winning pitchers who was the first ever to win four Cy Young Awards in a row and is a sure-shot to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as early as 2014.
So what about Bryce Harper?At sixteen – the cover of Sports Illustrated, at nineteen – in the majors with the Washington Nationals, and just barely twenty – Rookie of the Year in the National League! Whew! Can he keep this up? Odds are he will. He is what is commonly called in baseball parlance, a natural—blessed with God-given talents that just seem to be a part of his DNA. But Bryce has other attributes that increase his odds of being a truly exceptional ballplayer for years to come. One of them is his sheer love of the game and the joy and exhilaration he seems to feel everyday on the field. Another is his energy and desire to work at excelling. And most importantly, he just plain hustles ala legends Ty Cobb and Pete Rose. When you put this all together, you have the makings of a superstar, and it sure seems Harper has the ability to go at it long-term, barring any serious injuries. And as most athletes know, those players that go at a game full-bore seem to be less injury-prone. Hopefully, that will be true in Bryce Harper’s case. Hell, he stole home in one of his first games. Talk about full-bore!
Now for those of us who love baseball and respect that there is a real purity to the game, (albeit the designated hitter in the American League is an abomination and bastardization of Doubleday’s game), the fact that another 20 year-old phenom in the American League was just voted Rookie of the Year is really significant and exciting to baseball watchers. Trout, an L.A. Angel, had an even better year than Harper, batting .326 with 32 homers and 83 RBI’s. Both had awesome years, both are great to watch play, so the numbers don’t matter than much. What really matters for us dyed-in-the-wool baseball lovers is that we have several years, God willing, of watching two young, exceptionally talented ball players—one in each league—with the possibility of seeing them both play against each other in a World Series and almost definitely in an All-Star game soon. They both run, hit, steal, catch, score and throw—with grit, guts, gratitude for the game and exhilarating youthful abandonment. Isn’t that what baseball is meant to be about? Isn’t that why we spend hours watching our kids play Little League Baseball? Don’t you just love it?
I’ll close with some incredible quotes from Bryce Harper. Here’s my favorite: “This game is unbelievable. I love it with everything I’ve got. And I’m going to play every single day like it’s my last.” Amen. SLV
BRYCE HARPER QUOTES
“I’m going to play against you the way Pete Rose did, I’m going to try to rip your head off. That’s just the way I am. Old school. If I could play for a guy like Lou Piniella or Larry Bowa, I’d love it.”
“I’m not a very vocal leader, But if I want to get my point across, I’ll get it across. Maybe not vocally. Maybe it’s just playing hard. This year I had to take control of the team and say that we needed to be a team and not be individuals. Our whole team was leaders. Every guy on the team did something. All of us contributed. We were all leaders together.”
”I love the way people talk crap, I hear it all the time. Overrated. You suck. I’ll just do something to shut them up, like, I’ll show you. It’s like in regular pregame work. I like to show off my arm. Just so it’s like, there you go. Don’t even think about trying to run.”
“Bryce has a saying,” Ron (Bryce Harper’s father) says. “Whenever people say how good he is, he likes to say, ‘I’m not done yet. I still have work to do.’ He’s going to get a lot better, and I say that because of how hard he works. I don’t think he’ll ever rest on his laurels.”
“There are so many people out there who will tell you that you can’t. What you’ve got to do is turn around and say, ‘Watch Me.’”
“When I’m playing, I’m playing hard. I have a passion to play this game. When you see my attitude, it’s when somebody comes after my team. I want my teammates to know I have their backs.”
“I’m excited to get up there and play, and hopefully they don’t throw any batteries or whatnot at me.” (on playing at Citizens Bank Park)
“Having the Lord on my side, that’s always good.”
“When I run... I don’t feel like a deer. I wish I ran like a deer.”
Bryce Aron Max Harper
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 6’ 3” Weight: 225 lb.
Born: October 16, 1992 in Las Vegas, NV (Age 20)
High School: Las Vegas High (Las Vegas, NV)
School: College of Southern Nevada (Henderson, NV)
Drafted: Washington Nationals in the 1st round,
(1st pick) of the 2010 amateur draft
Signed: August 16, 2010 (All Transactions)
Debut: April 28, 2012
Team: Nationals 2012
2012 Contract Status: not updated, 5 yrs/$9.9M (11-15)