The All-Star Game will have a tough act to follow.
Bryce Harper won the Home Run Derby at Nationals Park on Monday night with an unforgettable performance; he smashed nine home runs in less than a minute to tie Kyle Schwarber, and then sent his hometown crowd into a frenzy with a bonus time blast to take trophy home.
“It’s unbelievable,” Harper told reporters after the game. “I think just having the crowd out there and really feeding off them. We have some of the best fans in all of baseball, and to be able to that with my family out there, that’s an incredible moment, not only for me but for the organization and the Nationals fans, and I’m very blessed and humbled.”
Even with Harper as the hometown hero, the atmosphere was somewhat unexpectedly electric given a perceived overall lack of star power in the event. But, in what could be his last big moment in a Nationals uniform, Harper, decked out in red, white and blue from head to toe, captured the crowd with a dramatic display in which he closed an 18-9 deficit in under a minute.
He then sent them into a frenzy with his bonus time blast, with his homer and subsequent celebratory bat flip electrifying an event that can sometimes fall flat in person.
Making it even better? Harper’s dad, Ron, was the one throwing to him.
“I mean, I couldn’t be more fortunate than to have him throwing for me and just so blessed, and, I mean, I don’t know, I’ve got one of the best families in all the world and just so happy to be able to share that moment with them and with my family and this crowd and these fans,” Bryce Harper said. “Man, they did a great job.”
Nationals fans will have plenty to cheer about as well on Tuesday with Max Scherzer set to get the nod as the National League’s starting pitcher for the second consecutive year.
“When (manager) Dave (Roberts) told me that he was going to give me the nod, so many emotions (come out) when you know that you’re pitching in your home park,” Scherzer told reporters at a Monday afternoon press conference.
“This is such an honor for the All-Star Game to be here. In previous experiences of being in the All-Star Games, you know, seeing the hometown players and how the fans get behind the hometown players, it’s always been a special moment just watching that from afar and being on the other side. So, I can only imagine what it’s going to be like to have the Nats fans here supporting all of us, Bryce and (Sean) Doolittle, as well. It’s just an honor to be able to have that recognition and go out there and start this thing again, because this is just a dream come true.”