Monday, July 15, 2013

Harpers share Derby dream together

USA Today Sports Images
Updated at 12:55 a.m.

NEW YORK — During those long, scorching-hot afternoons in Las Vegas — before the baseball world had ever heard of his youngest son — Ron Harper would throw batting practice to young Bryce, unloading pitch after pitch after pitch to the boy who would someday become a major-league star.

So when they stepped into the spotlight Monday night at Citi Field, Bryce and Ron Harper paid no attention to the crowd of 43,588 watching in person or the millions more watching the Home Run Derby on national TV. As far as they were concerned, they were simply father and son, back in Vegas.

"Having my dad out there throwing to me, I was so calm and cool about it," Bryce Harper said. "I wasn't even thinking about the million people in the stands. All I was thinking was that my family's here, my brother's on the field and everybody that's here is family to me."

By night's end, Harper had put on a show worthy of the 20-year-old's first-ever Derby appearance, reaching the final round of the contest before losing out to Athletics slugger Yoenis Cespedes. Results aside, the experience was far more meaningful to the entire Harper family.

"We always talked about it," Ron Harper said. "When he was a little guy. Not after he got drafted, but when he was tiny. He said: 'If I ever get to do that, I want you to throw to me.' Yeah, it was a dream come true."

Wearing an official NL All-Star uniform and pitching to his son in the batter's box, Ron Harper learned what so many often don't realize: It's not easy for non-professionals to throw strikes in a pressurized setting.

Harper took the first four pitches his dad threw, and there were plenty more takes along the way, not to mention one pitch that struck him in the foot, drawing a laugh from the crowd and the participants.

"That was pretty funny," Harper said. "He's never hit me before. He's never hit me during BP."

When Ron Harper did find the strike zone, his son made the most of it.

Harper clubbed eight homers in the first round, good enough for a second-place tie with the Orioles' Chris Davis, though well behind the ridiculous bar set by Cespedes, who hammered 17 home runs in his first round to leave the crowd buzzing.

Showcasing his power to all fields, Harper hit them out down the right-field line, to right-center, to straightaway center and even once went "oppo-boppo" to left-center. His biggest blast: a 471-foot bomb to right-center that was the second-longest hit by anyone all night, bested only by Prince Fielder's 483-foot moonshot.

Showing remarkable consistency, Harper again hit eight homers in the second round to earn a spot in the final four with Cespedes, Davis and Cuddyer.

Davis struggled in his second go-around, hitting only four homers to give him an aggregate total of 12. Cuddyer's two-round total of 15 brought Harper to the plate knowing he would need to hit at least seven to ensure his night continued. He surpassed that by the slimmest of margins, advancing to the finals with a total of 16 homers.

By the time he reached the final round, Harper admittedly was fatigued, the 90-degree heat and humidity finally getting to him.

"Those last two rounds, I can say I was a little tired," he said.

So was Ron, who was informed afterward he threw approximately 120 pitches by night's end.

Despite the sweltering conditions, Harper did manage to hang in there and once again hit eight homers in his final round, including on his first three swings. He wasn't confident that total would hold up.

"No, I came off the field and said, that's not enough," he said. "I thought maybe 12. The way he was swinging the bat the first round, he wasn't even trying. It was pretty incredible to watch."

Cespedes indeed had one final barrage in him, blasting nine home runs on his first 14 swings of the round to capture the title.

"He's incredible. He's an absolute machine," Harper said of the Cuban refuge who debuted in America last season. "I can't wait until I'm 23 years old."

Though admitting he was disappointed not to win, Harper still boasted a wide smile afterward. Shoot, he just competed in the Home Run Derby, with his dad on the mound, the two exchanging a big hug as they wrapped things up.

"I'm so thankful and blessed he was able to do that," Bryce Harper said. "What a special opportunity for this. I had a blast."

Said Ron Harper: "I wouldn't trade it for nothing in the world."

73 comments:

TimDz said...

I was hoping Cespedes wore himself out in the first round..

Unknown said...

Very cool! Great job Bryce! And to think, for a few millions more we could have has Cespedes in DC, too! Congrats to both young men!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Great show! Very proup of Bryce!

David Proctor said...

Cespedes is only hitting .225 this year (though he does have 15 homers). He hit .292 last year though.

Regardless, great showing by both guys. Both Harpers looked gassed at the end.

SonnyG10 said...

TimDz said...
I was hoping Cespedes wore himself out in the first round..
July 15, 2013 11:00 PM


Yea, me too, Tim.

David Proctor said...

Jim Bowden (so take it for what it's worth) is reporting the Nats are in on Garza.

SonnyG10 said...

I'm proud of Bryce also. I can't heip but think that if he had a better pitcher, he would have done better (sorry Ron).

ObsessedNatsFan said...

A win would have been sweet but Bryce making the final two was great to see. Hope this carries over to big second half for him and the Nats.

RickH said...

Nice night for the Harper family!!!

NatsLady said...

SonnyG, I was thinking that too, but how do you say, "Dad, next year I want to win this thing." Anyway, he didn't have a chance the way Cespedes was going, you could see that from the beginning. But with a little more experience and another year or two under his belt...

Muddy said...

An amazing 20-year old. Rare company. Congrats to Bryce -- and Ron Harper too!

NatsLady said...

Cespedes was very cool, in control of the event. Bryce was tired and hot. He'll do it next year!!!!!

baseballswami said...

Hard for me to read a headline that begins" Bryce loses". More like - look at those ten names and he was second. Holy crap how can he be only twenty?? I did notice , though, that while Ces... Hit towering homers, Bryce's were missiles that got out in a heartbeat. Impressive poise and bat speed. So very proud.

Faraz Shaikh said...

as fast as his trot. for all we know, he probably trotted all the way while everyone was watching his HRs. good job Bryce!

btw has anyone seen Candide around lately?

Doc said...

Great performance by Harps!

Being 20 and in 2nd place with those guys is a total honor! Sorta like a mini-MVP Award.

Congrats to Bryce and his dad!!

baseballswami said...

So you know how we always complain about Metro issues? Well apparently mobs of people are stuck at Citi Field due to an issue with one of their train lines. Pandemonium. So I guess it's not just a DC thing after all.

David Proctor said...

Interesting take by Joey Votto on Chris Davis pegging 61 as the HR record:

“If Chris feels like 61 is the home run record, maybe he’s just selfishly pegging that number as the home run record so if he passes it he can wear a crown or something like that,” Reds first baseman Joey Votto said. “There would be a lot of money in that.”

Faraz Shaikh said...

Swami, still NYC metro is much better I think. Their system is pretty old and I am sure requires lot of maintenance but I really like their express vs local which should be implemented in DC also (I don't know how).

Faraz Shaikh said...

Doesn't Votto always make this little comments that annoy someone?

baseballswami said...

Faraz- correct on both counts. Still, it usually amuses me when there is an epic NYC fail.

Drew said...

Meantime, there's encouraging news on the farm.

Lucas Giolito, who turned 19 Sunday, threw three scoreless innings Monday in the Gulf Coast League. His T.J. recovery is what matters now, but he dropped his ERA to 1.69.

Sammy Solis returned Monday and threw four scoreless innings at Potomac, dropping his ERA to 2.70.

Sammy will be 25 next month. Gotta think the Nats want him to get to AA pretty soon, once he's back to full strength.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

Very happy for Bryce and his dad. If Ron works on his delivery, Bryce will do even better, next time. If it weren't for those two, the Home Run Derby would have been too boring to watch.

Candide said...

Faraz Shaikh said...btw has anyone seen Candide around lately?

Faraz - Cunegonde and I just got back the wee hours of Monday morning from 2-1/2 weeks in France. Six hour time difference, so even if we'd stayed up until 1:00 am every morning, we'd miss the first pitch. So we had to content ourselves with firing up MLB At Bat for the scores, and occasionally dropping in here for a quick review before rushing off with the other ten or so family members to Aix-en-Provence or Nimes or whatever.

Best thing about the trip: We drove to the little village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and found two fabulous wines there for about $25 a bottle. Bought three of each, and even though our bags were each a little over 50 pounds at the airport, we didn't get hit with a surcharge. I've found it always pays to be extra nice to the person behind the airport ticket counter. Smile, ask how she's doing with as much of an "I really DO want to know" expression as you can muster, make a joke or two at my own expense. In France, I deliberately play the opposite of the stereotypical "ugly American," asking French people to speak to me "slowly, as if I'm a stupid ten-year old" ("...lentement, comme j'ai dix ans et suis un peu stupide...". I've found that the supposedly hostile French can be surprisingly sweet to you if you don't cop an attitude. And what the hell, you're on vacation; why shouldn't you be nice and friendly and good-natured...?

Anyway, back to the Nats. With everyone healthy, we were hoping to see the Nats go 12-2 or something like that while we were gone, but despite spasms of power, they disappointed us. If they couldn't tear apart the league with a healthy lineup and pitching staff while we were gone, why should I have any hope they're going to suddenly break out?

Anyway, Cunegonde and I have tickets for Monday night against the Bucs.

Whenever my mom comes back from France (she grew up in Paris, goes almost every year), her first words to me on the phone are, invariably, "I'm so glad to be home." Amen.

GYFNG!

natsfan1a said...

Carrying forward:

Atta way, Bryce! Atta way, Pops! I recorded the derby and clicked back and forth a few times before settling in to watch it a little bit after 9 PM. That way, I was able to "rewind" to see Bryce's first round, and I was in real time when his second turn came up. (Sorry, but I just could not bring myself to watch the whole show, although I did watch the final round.) Did see some other guys take their turns as well. How about old man Cuddyer? Plus, he does a mean card trick. Didn't realize he wore #3 because of Killebrew.
July 16, 2013 7:19 AM

natsfan1a said...

Welcome back, Candide. Reposting a link to a piece on scorekeeping in case you (and Cunegonde) didn't see it the other day.

baseballswami said...

Welcome back!!! I was thinking this morning about how MLB does that stand up to cancer, where everyone holds up a card with a name on it. I find it to be extremely moving and I love it that these events , and MLB in general, are so tied in to charity. The Nats seem to be very good citizens. Just a nice silver lining for me.

natsfan1a said...

Just found a followup/rebuttal to that piece.

natsfan1a said...

Nah, this is more precious than a win, at least in my book (from Comak):

But the outcome hardly dulled the moment for the Harpers, who shared a hug after each round. When Bryce’s 30th out had been made, they shared an even longer one.

“I told him I love him,” Ron said. “I said ‘I enjoyed it. Thank you for the opportunity to do this with you, kid, and I love you. Absolutely.’”

SonnyG10 said...

I'm proud of Bryce also. I can't heip but think that if he had a better pitcher, he would have done better (sorry Ron).
July 15, 2013 11:09 PM

Candide said...

Thanks for the link, 1a - will share with Cunegonde!

Doc said...

Not sure of the 'better pitcher' stuff.

Ron Harper has been pitching to his wunderkin for as long as Bryce has been hitting a baseball.

Who better to throw BP to you than somebody who knows where you want it pitched, and has known it all your life???

BP pitchers don't usually come out of the Cy Young Award ceremonies.

Faraz Shaikh said...

Welcome back! Seems like you had a great time.

Tonight I root for Harvey as well as Kershaw and all other NL stars. Please beat AL!

NatsLady said...

Doc, I think Ron Harper got tired. I don't know if another pitcher would have had more stamina, I don't know if you are allowed to switch pitchers for the final round. It seemed to me that Bryce conserved his energy as best he could, doing "just enough" to make it to the second and then the final round. Even though Bryce was sweating, you could see from his blasts he still had reserve energy. I'm not sure about his pops.

Doc said...

NL I thought that Bryce was the tired one.

A lot of effort goes into swinging the bat for that period of time. As Kurt Schilling pointed out, these guys were supplying their own power. Normally in a real game it's the pitcher that is throwing the HR.

hiramhover said...

Doc

BP pitchers don't need to be CY contenders,but they do need to be consistent, and Ron Harper wasn't. Even in the first round, his pitches were all over the place--frequently inside, sometimes very much so, sometimes outside.

There were plenty of great reasons for Harper to chose his dad, but consistency wasn't one of them.

Doc said...


hiramhover,

True about Ron Harper's pitches, but I'm not sure that his stuff was much different than the other guys throwing BP.

Again, you only had to swing at what looked good, and Ron knew where Bryce wanted it. He must have been doing something right, as Harps hit the same number each round--8!

NatsLady said...

Rumors:

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that the Red Sox and Yankees are among about a dozen teams who have checked in with the Phillies about the availability of Michael Young.
The Red Sox would play Young at third base while the Yankees could shuffle him between the hot corner and first base. Interestingly, Rosenthal notes that the Red Sox sent VP of player personnel Allard Baird to watch the Phillies in back-to-back series just prior to the All-Star break. Still, it's unclear if the Phillies will sell, as they sit at 48-48 on the year and are reportedly in the market for outfield and bullpen help. Young, who will be a free agent after the season, as a full no-trade


Yes, he can hit, but boy, his fielding--YUCK.

NatsLady said...

Honestly, in the end, I thought Bryce and his pops did great. No way they were beating Cespedes, he was on it. So, thanks much!!!! Do it again next year.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

"I can't wait until I'm 23 years old."

Which won't be for another three years, 2016.

Dayum.

Faraz Shaikh said...

yeah seriously! how cool is that!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

There was so much social media trash talking about how Bryce wouldn't do a thing and what a punk he is and the B'morons claiming Chris Davis would destroy Bryce and Bryce beat everyone but Cespedes and all Chris Davis got was a boo-boo.

I think Bryce had the 2nd longest HR at 471 feet too.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

ESPN dialed back Chris Berman. Only a dozen back/back/back HR calls.

It was a fun exhibition and Bryce is a Beast. I was hoping Bryce was going to charge the mound after his Dad HBP'd him.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

Well, that's the thing about anti-social media...they're at home, tweetering, while Bryce is busy *hitting home runs at the All-Star Game with his dad.*

Bryce wins that round.

natsfan1a said...

Indeed, sec3, er, sec1, er, sofa.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

I almost got a feeling even Berman was tired of it, and just did a few to keep his trademark alive.

Muddy said...

What's up with Harp's shoes? Wow. Those colors ... and the skyline of NYC etched on the sides? ... I worry. What do those shoes and previous wild ones Harp's worn say 'bout Harp's future? Ultimate showman? Hmmm ... I reduced to trying to read shoes and haircuts. I'm thinkin' this guy will want to eventually play in NYC. He's wanted to be a Yankee, right?, since boyhood (not that long ago). He says he loves DC but ... And we love him. Maybe the Nats should hire Ron Harper as a minor league instructor/coach. His BP pitchin' last night wasn't that bad. Heck, they've got Brian already. Ron helped develop Bryce and Brian. Sheri and sis no doubt could be assets in the organization, too. LOCK UP THE WHOLE FAMILY!! Just sayin' ...

SCNatsFan said...

Im proud that Harper repeatedly says and does the right thing. There was never a question about his talent, only his maturity; he has answered all those questions.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

To be fair, they are IN New York, and I'm guessing he doesn't wear his cleats out before he replaces them. Pretty much a one-time thing, and then maybe he donates them, or keeps them for his own collection. So there's that.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...
I almost got a feeling even Berman was tired of it, and just did a few to keep his trademark alive.


Or ESPN finally listened to viewers who couldn't take it any more. It was unbearable when Joe Morgan did it with Berman. If I had to hear one more "slide piece" story of Morgan's or a back-back-back that landed on the warning track I would blow my brains out.

Did you also notice the Gold balls are no longer juiced. I think one batter hit one out.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Sec1 Sofa, much better than the Golden cleats that looked like Under Armour took the Johnny Unitas hi-tops design and painted them gold.

NCNatsie said...

i think keeping Bryce and otheer superstars here is more about building a winning -- and profitable -- franchise here than it is about anything else.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Mark Zuckerman @ZuckermanCSN I can confirm this conversation. RT @acomak Harper's unbelievably strong hair product(held up in humidity/sweat)is suavecito. Yes I asked.

NatsJack in Florida said...

MLB network showed Bryces new kicks during their run up to the Derby. The close up was really good and I thought they were "Sweeeeet!"

natsfan1a said...

I saw that hair product item in Mark's tweeter update thingy on this page. I mentioned it to my husband and he showed me a Xavier Cugat DVD with this on it. Dang, I hate it when he knows more than I do. :-)

Get Your Re(n)d On said...

According to Boswell's tweet last night, ALL the balls were juiced.

baseballswami said...

Bryce is under contract with UnderArmor-- they decide what he will wear to show off their company. You can buy a pair of those online for just over a hundred bucks. Even though Bryce looked flamboyant, he acted very professionally- I cannot see anything that would have been questionable. That seems to be the way he expresses himself- the shoes, gloves, hair. His personal behavior does not reflect those things. It has not been so long since he returned from the DL and he jumped back in with both feet after a period of being shut down, then had a stressful road trip. He may not have tired had he been in his regular shape. I thought maybe it was too soon, but Bryce just sets his mind on things. I am certain that a lot of those major leaguers sitting on that field were impressed with him. They are the ones who know how hard it is. He seems to thrive on these things, though- I hope he comes back energized, not tired. Just Bryce being Bryce- people don't want to like him or be impressed, but then they just can't help it. He changes their minds.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Has Selig answered when DC will get their All Star game?

44 years and counting from the last one. I also know that development around the stadium is good to have but not essential if you have ever been to Angels Stadium or Yankee Stadium you know what I'm talking about.

NatsLady said...

i looked three times and couldn't see the NY skyline, but my eyes are bad, i'll take your word for it. Didn't like seeing him in Mets colors but what ya gonna do? Very good about his dad getting no. 3 on his jersey.

Doc said...

I'll bet Boswell was more juiced than the balls!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

I should have mentioned White Sox Stadium also. All 3 of those stadiums have hosted All Star games in the last 10 years and the Fan Fests were at convention centers far from the stadium and they used charter buses to shuffle people in and out.

DC could easily handle it and with the Metro system, very easily.

NatsLady said...

Doc, LOL. Have to admit, i stopped reading Boz... He doesn't add to my enjoyment of baseball. It's that simple.

Candide said...

Am I the only one who thinks the Berman schtick isn't just annoying, but also forced? I mean, he starts screaming like these HRs are bottom-of-the-ninth-pinch-hitter-with-the-walk-off-win-the-seventh-game-of-the-World-Series-homers.

There's little that's dramatic or unexpected about cleanup hitters blasting big BP home runs. Hearing Berman go bananas over the fifteenth 400-foot shot of the evening is kinda like hearing someone describe a tuna sandwich as "awesome;" where do you go to describe something truly great after you've attributed mythic properties to the banal?

mick said...

filed of dreams moment...very cool

mick said...

field

Candide said...

Seeing Bryce Harper and his dad is like seeing what Mickey Mantle might have been like had his father not died during his second season with the Yanks. Say what you want about Harper, but the idea of his carousing all night long and getting drunk with the likes of Billy Martin and Whitey Ford seems about as likely as the idea of coming home and finding a cow reading Moby Dick in your living room.

mick said...

bring me champagne when i'm thirsty, bring me reefer when i want to get high

oh yea ....

Theophilus T. S. said...

Berman's act is as worn out as Al Sharpton's and Jackie Mason's. Not that I ever liked it anyway. After Harper hit in Round 1 I tuned out until 5:00 a.m. The day after Berman retires/croaks ESPN's ratings will go up 20 percent.

Jim said...

Can someone name the animal that sits on top of Bryce Harper's head? And is it trained to walk on a leash?

Doc said...

Actually Candide, about the cow and Moby Dick, that happened to me once when I was in university.

Fortunately, I was sober the next morning!

mick said...

Doc..i can relate...except it was a sheep the next morning in the frat house...lol

mick said...

no i did not attend West Virginia U...

although a lot of my frat bro's were from Morgantown, lol

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

Can someone name the animal that sits on top of Bryce Harper's head?

I think I'll call him George. And it WAS standing up.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

It wasn't Melville, but I did once have an awkward moment like that.

Sec. 1 D, seat 10 T, My Sofa said...

Oh, and FWIW, I LOVE the gold UnderArmour clacks. I want a pair. I am going to form a new team just so we can make our colors Vegas gold and red.

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