If you were a D.C. or Maryland native and decided to attend your first ever major league game locally, you would be in for quite a surprise.
You would notice the new stadium structure, a crowded Nationals Park not synonymous with what you’ve read about how Olympic Stadium in Montreal used to be and an extremely talented man playing right field.
“How old is that right fielder?” you hesitantly ask the die-hard, chest paint-loving Nationals fan sitting next to you, “He certainly looks and plays like a veteran.”
Slowly, this fan covers his right hand with his newly-purchased foam finger, points to right field and says, “That right there is the future of this franchise. His name is Bryce Harper, and he is only nineteen years old.”
“Nineteen years old? You must be joking! This young man should be hitting the bars in Canada, not playing in front of tens of thousands of fans.”
After the game, your Google inquiries tell you that Bryce Harper is no average 19-year old. After being one of only three amateur athletes ever to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated (along with high school basketball stars Shabazz Muhammad and Lew Alcindor) back when he just got his drivers’ license, the rookie out of Las Vegas has certainly not disappointed.
The world was introduced to the phenom left-handed hitter as “The Chosen One,” quite the entrance for just a teenager.
Posting numbers consistent with urban legend, Harper is rumored to have hit a ball over 600 feet as a sophomore for Bishop Gorman High School.
He even wowed scouts at a high school showcase at Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida when he regularly drilled batting practice balls off the back canvas of the stadium over 450 feet away.
After obtaining his GED in 2009, Harper went on to play just one season at the College of Southern Nevada, posting a .443 batting average and hitting 33 home-runs in just 66 games before being drafted first overall by the Washington Nationals in the 2010 MLB Draft and winning the Golden Spikes Award, given to the most outstanding amateur baseball player each year.
Despite claims of his being cocky and purely a product of hype, Harper made the Nationals after spending just over a season in the minor leagues.
Now batting second as an everyday player for the team, Harper has proven he belongs, batting a solid .289 with 7 home-runs and 19 RBI thus far.
Sure, you discover, he’s had his teenage moments, like when he blew a kiss to an opposing pitcher after hitting a home-run in Class A, but he’s also shown how he’s matured.
It takes a man to be able to stand up to a hack reporter asking about your favorite type of Canadian beer as a 19 year-old practicing Mormon with the ever-iconic, “That’s a clown question, bro.”
Despite his success, your newfound internet research on Bryce Harper tells you that it will take even more of a man to be able to remain in the league for what has the potential to be a Hall of Fame career.
Even more of a man to lead the Nationals to their first ever World Series along with Stephen Strasburg, to make a positive impact in a D.C. community that often struggles with crime and finally to live up to this title as “The Chosen One.”
And to think you were just going to eat a few hot dogs and watch this “veteran” in silence.