Gabe Kapler: Nationals fans booing Bryce Harper ‘a little surprising’
Bryce Harper was lustily booed Tuesday night at Nationals Park in his first game back in D.C. as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Gabe Kapler was a bit taken aback by the hostile reception.
Nationals fans were vitriolic throughout the game toward their former superstar, booing mercilessly during all five of his at-bats, not to mention when he trotted out to the outfield.
Bryce Harper booed loudly in DC as he walks to plate for 1st time#BryceHarper pic.twitter.com/FcxP3KWhWL— Jeff Skversky 6abc (@JeffSkversky) April 2, 2019
Bryce Harper gets booed running out to right field. pic.twitter.com/QboVAxEVif— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) April 3, 2019
Harper was diplomatic about the Nationals fans’ reaction to his return, saying, “That’s sports. That’s part of the game, I guess you can say.”
Kapler, meanwhile, did not expect such a hostility out of a fan base that revered Harper for so many years, saying as much during his weekly interview on 94 WIP with Angelo Cataldi on Wednesday morning.
“It did (surprise me). It really did Angelo. It’s not that I wouldn’t expect the Nationals fans to be a little bit irked that Bryce chose the Phillies,” Kapler said, as transcribed by Crossing Broad. “But at the same time, I think the first thing that I would do as a fan is recognize the contributions of a player that gave everything he had for seven years and four playoff appearances.
“… So yeah, it was a little surprising.”
Harper finished the game 3-for-5 with a double, home run and three RBI, getting the last laugh in the Phillies’ 8-2 victory over his former team.
"It's a little different, coming back here and getting booed," Bryce Harper said. "But for me, it's exactly like going to another ballpark."— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) April 3, 2019
More from @howardfendrich: https://t.co/KMmBnLXpHD pic.twitter.com/zlXmJlOCCa
The new Phillies sensation presumably is relieved to get his first game back in D.C. out of the way. It is very likely, however, that Nationals fans will treat him in the same manner each and every time he’s back in the ballpark in which he had been showered with cheers for so many years.