Bryce Harper has been on a tear for the Washington Nationals lately. And by lately, I mean the entire season so far. In 35 games, he’s hit .388/503/.767. And against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night, Harper hit his 13th homer of the season, a monster blast that helped him reach an important milestone for any prodigious home-run hitter. With that homer at PNC Park, Harper has hit home runs at every National League ballpark.
But let’s talk about that homer first, because it was classic Harper. It was the top of the ninth inning, and the Nationals already had a 6-4 lead. Harper came up to face Pirates reliever Wade LeBlanc with a runner on, and on the 1-2 pitch, he absolutely belted an enormous two-run homer to right field.
The homer was majestic, but the person who caught the ball made it all even better (if you can believe it). Harper was hitting at the Pirates’ home park, so you’d expect the homer to be caught by a Pirates fan, and then possibly thrown back on the field. But Harper managed to hit that homer to an area of PNC park where a Nationals fan was sitting. And not only did that fan get the ball, he was also wearing a Bryce Harper jersey. It was meant to be.
Now about that home run milestone. When Harper spoke to MLB.com’s Bob Cohn after the game, he said he’s known “for years” that PNC Park was the only National League park where he hadn’t hit a home run. But he wasn’t specifically trying to do it.
“Coming in, you always want to hit a homer and things like that, but that’s not the only thing on my mind. Try to get good at-bats, and, if possible, get on base, and help the team win. I’m happy to scratch it off the list.”
With all 15 NL parks crossed off his home run list, Harper can start with the American League parks. And he already has a head start. He’s hit homers at seven AL parks already, and has eight more to go. And he’s only 24! He won’t cross every MLB stadium off his list before he turns 25, but there’s good money on him doing it before he turns 30. (Especially if he signs with an AL team when he’s a free agent in 2019.)
Harper had a little more to say about hitting home runs on Tuesday night. He gave this wonderfully weird quote to Chelsea Janes after the game.
Harper, asked if it's particularly enticing to try to homer here with water out behind right field, "I can go anywhere. Just being honest."
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) May 17, 2017
Feel free to put Harper’s “I can go anywhere” comment into whatever context you’d like.
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