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Umpire boots Atlanta Braves fan for profanely taunting Bryce Harper (video)

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Razzing — even flat-out taunting — of visiting ballplayers by hometown fans has long been an integral part of baseball. Catcalls, boos, even not-so-nice things about the player and his family (sometimes true but usually not) are all part of the game day experience, something that players usually just shrug off and ignore.

That was again the case on Tuesday night at Turner Field when an Atlanta Braves fan took it upon himself to give Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper a hard of time as possible each and every time he stepped to the plate.

The problem turned out to be that the fan crossed the imaginary line between acceptable taunting practices and abject buffoonery.

The fan’s vitriolic and vulgar tirade barely could be picked up during the broadcast, but the lines spat out by the fan were some variation on “You fu**ing suck, you piece of s**t!”

Harper, to his credit, managed to maintain his dignity and composure in the face of the belligerent fan hurling obscenity-laced missives at the outfielder. But soon enough, enough was enough for home plate umpire Tim Welke, who halted play, pointed out the offending fan and had his butt booted out of the ballpark.

“Hey! Hey! Get rid of that guy!” Welke said while signaling out the boorish fan. “Get rid of him now!”

WARNING: Video contains barely decipherable vulgar language. Viewer discretion is advised.

And off he went, escorted by stadium staff. But he appeared to be pleading his case as he walked up the stairs … or he was only continuing to draw attention to himself while acting the fool and being a buffoon.

As noted above, taunting, sometimes even of the hostile variety, is a completely typical scene at the ballpark, as commonplace a sight as peanuts and Cracker Jax and as a familiar a sound as vendors peddling said concessions.

Sometimes, the heckler is surprisingly rewarded for his taunts by the player whose being subjected to the ire, as was the case in June when Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips sought out a Pittsburgh Pirates fan heckler, took a selfie with the guy and even autographed a baseball, on which he wrote, “Dear Drunk Guy, Thank You 4 All The Love & Support!! Now Take This Ball And Shut The Phuck Up!!” before signing it.

A similar case played out in late July when Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel zinged a heckler by giving the fan an autographed baseball on which he thanked the taunter for helping in part to pay his salary.

But this guy on Tuesday night? He crossed the line. And it earned him the old heave-ho. And deservedly so, actually.

Bryce Harper, along with his Nationals teammates, however, had the last laugh, as the team’s 3-0 win clinched the NL East title. Harper was spotted in the clubhouse rocking a personalized fireman’s helmet during the raucous celebration.

Nice look. Now, if only some earplugs were attached to that lid, Harper could have worn that bad boy during the game and never heard the heckler’s taunts. But it probably doesn’t conform to the MLB’s uniform policy, so probably not.

[reddit/Big League Stew, video via TinyPic]