Updated at 7:30 a.m. April 28 wth improved video
Another first for Bryce Harper with the Nationals’ Hagerstown Suns: a benches-clearing brawl. (Really, more of a brawlette...)
After hitting his fourth home run of the season in the first inning Tuesday night in Charleston, W.Va., Harper — heckled by Rod “The Toast Man” Blackstone — struck out looking on a pitch by Tyler Waldron, the West Virginia Power starter. Nationals Enquirer has shaky video of Harper removing his helmet and gloves at the plate and following Waldron to the Power dugout as the two discuss the game’s finer points. With that, it was on. Benches cleared and then everybody went back to baseball. You know how it goes. Except for the part about Rod “The Toast Man” Blackstone. That’s a new wrinkle.
You can see how The Toast Man might be irksome. He sits at a table with an electric toaster, toasts bread to a crisp to render it inedible and, when an opposing batter strikes out, flings it at fans while he urges them to chant, “You are toast!” at the hitter. (My blood pressure is rising just typing this.)
Waldron declined to discuss the matter. “That conversation should probably stay between the team and stay on the field,” Waldron told the West Virginia Gazette with a smile.
(The back story concerns an earlier home run by the Suns’ Michael Taylor that didn’t count because he neglected to touch first base. Suns Manager Brian Daubach was ejected for arguing that point. And Harper and the Power catcher also earlier exchanged pleasantries when Harper crossed the plate after hitting his homer.)
Tonight, Harper and the Suns face pitcher Jamison Taillon, who was taken second to Harper in last year’s draft. The series finale on Friday is Teacher Appreciation Night and Mr. Belding is scheduled to make an appearance. No word of a Screech vs. Screech fight, though.