Bryce Harper appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16 and was dubbed “Baseball’s Chosen One.” Harper was hitting 570 foot homers, throwing 96 mph, and was the most exciting sports prodigy since Lebron. It was very easy to buy in to the hype. He was unlike any player I’ve ever seen.
My friends and I love the Aflac All American Game. It costs about five dollars and you get to see the best high school baseball players in the country who are entering their senior year. In 2009, for the first time in the history of the game, they allowed someone who had only finished his sophomore year, Bryce Harper. Harper got his GED so that he could enter college at 16 and then be eligible for the draft after one college season at 17.
I live in San Diego and one of my favorite perks is that the Aflac game is typically held at Petco Park. The Bryce Harper game in 2009 was my all time favorite out of the six I have attended. My friends Kevin and Collin are Aflac vets who came with me to the Home Run Derby the day before the game at The University of San Diego. We thought Harper would hit about ten home runs but were disappointed when he only hit four. While we were disappointed, our main goal of going to the derby was to meet Harper.
After the derby we waited for him with a group of other fans. We didn’t want autographs, just high fives. We saw him walking up the stairs on his way to the bus towards us. We all had our hands out, and as Harper went to give Collin a high five, Collin moved his hand and put it through his hair with a big smile on his face. It was obvious he was joking. Collin has done this to other celebrities, all of whom showed a sense of humor and just laughed it off. However, Harper became furious. Immediately after the hair incident Harper quickly pulled out some Mike and Ike’s, which meant that nobody got a handshake or an autograph as his hands were occupied. Unfazed, fans followed Harper to the bus with baseballs and pens in hand. Harper reached toward the bottom of bus and violently threw his bag in. Meanwhile, fans gathered around the bus door and waved for a high five. Harper ignored everyone.
After he stepped onto the bus, we talked to some other Aflac players and asked one what he thought about Harper. Unsurprisingly, he called him a stuck up jerk. We understood exactly what he meant. After all the players had boarded the bus, we began walking towards our car – the event was over. Suddenly, the bus roared by and as we looked up we recognized Bryce Harper accompanied with his middle finger, he obviously didn’t forget us. At that point, we all knew he was a jerk.
Harper would go on the win the Golden Spikes Award at 17, the college baseball equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. His success continued with being the number one pick. In the minors, Harper was an instigator of many bench clearing fights. By 19, he was in the majors. During his rookie season, Cole Hamels hit him with a pitch and later admitted to doing it purposely. Harper won Rookie of the Year and has a very promising career ahead of him. However, he will remain unpopular because his confrontational attitude reminds people of infamous players like Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds.
What do you think of Bryce Harper? Let us know in the comments.
You can follow Thomas Frey on Twitter: @ThomasFreyRP