Bryce Harper signed a lucrative free agent contract in 2019 to join the Philadelphia Phillies, but the slugger said Sunday that he wished his time with the club had come much earlier.
Responding to the overwhelming support slumping teammate Trea Turner has received from the notoriously tough Philly crowd, a fired-up Harper told 94 WIP, “I don’t want to play anywhere else; I wish I started my career here.”
With Turner enduring a down year and mired in a career-long homerless streak, Phillies fans greeted the shortstop with standing ovations for two straight home tilts against the Kansas City Royals.
And, on Saturday, Turner finally broke through, smashing a three-run shot in a 9-6 Phillies win. After the cathartic homer, the Philly faithful willed Turner out of the dugout for a curtain call.
Turner has felt the love, which extends to Harper, who couldn’t help but praise the fans for getting behind the former All-Star despite his struggles.
“It’s incredible. I absolutely freaking love it,” Harper said. “Just an incredible moment for him. The fans having his back and our team’s back. They got us. I’m so thankful to be here.”
Philadelphia fans have always carried around an unflattering reputation, and, to an extent, some wear it as a badge of honor. However, while rowdy, foul-mouthed and hard on their teams, they’re largely misunderstood in Harper’s mind.
“Everybody talks about it, right? ‘Oh, it’s one of the hardest places to play; free agents don’t want to come here ’cause it’s hard,'” Harper said. “But they just don’t understand. They don’t get it.”
Since signing with the Phillies, Harper has seemingly understood the Philly fanbase like few players before him have. Pandering or not, Harper has earned their adoration, and his most recent comments should only further his good standing with the same people who threw snowballs at Santa Claus.