Sportress of Blogitude

Bryce Harper surprises youth baseball players at team’s practice


Bryce Harper took advantage of an open date on the Washington Nationals’ schedule Monday to brighten the spirits of some young baseball players by surprising them during practice.

Dressed in full uniform, the slugger threw batting practice and hit grounders to members of a Nationals youth team from the Prince George’s R.B.I. (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) League.

Harper admitted to being rusty at hitting practice grounders, telling the kids, “I haven’t done this in a while, so heads up.” He then lined a ball down the third base line before apologizing.

“My bad, dude,” he said. “Seriously.”

Harper later joked about his uninspiring fungo skills.

“I was trying to practice against the shift,” he said. “I had a blast. Just a couple years back, I was out here doing the same thing, trying to chase my dream and play major league baseball. Like I’ve said from Day One, I love D.C., and there’s absolutely no fakeness to that. To be able to come out here and hang out and enjoy the day with these kids is truly incredible. If I can make a kid smile, I’ll do that any day of the week.”

Harper’s appearance was part of a scheduled event sponsored by Gatorade, with whom the slugger has a endorsement deal. But that had no influence on how much the kids enjoyed Harper’s appearance.

“It was just a regular practice, and then Bryce Harper came,” said Jairus Davis, one of the players. “He’s a great person, a great guy to talk to. He’s just another person like us. Cool guy, cool personality. BP off of him was really fun. I took him a little bit deep to center.”

Harper’s Nationals have experienced a precipitous drop in the NL East standings of late, going from being in control of the division to trailing the New York Mets by 5.5 games (going 19-27 in July and August will have that effect). But the Nationals have won two straight to get them back above .500 at 62-61. Perhaps some positive mojo can be further gleaned from Harper’s charitable activities on Monday.

[H/T D.C. Sports Bog]