Bryce Harper hit his 40th home run of the season on Wednesday at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, becoming the seventh player in baseball history to reach that number at age 22 or younger.
Harper’s majestic blast landed in the first row of the right field seats, where a Phillies fan wearing a throwback Steve Carlton jersey caught it. In the bottom of the inning, Harper took a baseball out to his spot in right field, signed it, and traded balls with the fan who caught his 40th home run.
“I’m thankful for that,” Harper said after the game. “Pretty cool to have that ball.”
Harper might’ve had a more difficult time getting his milestone baseball back had he hit it to left field. There’s a good chance an “oppo boppo” blast by Harper would’ve ended up in the glove of ball hawk Zack Hample, a Yankees
fan season-ticket holder who has snagged more than 8,500 balls in his life.
Earlier this season, Hample caught Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit — a home run at Yankee Stadium — and initially turned down several offers from the Yankees for the ball. After two weeks of negotiations, Hample presented the ball to Rodriguez in exchange for two autographed bats and a $150,000 donation from the Yankees to Hample’s favorite charity.
Hample was in Philadelphia for Wednesday’s game and snagged 11 balls during batting practice. In the fourth inning, he chased down Jayson Werth’s solo home run and made a nice catch of Darin Ruf’s two-run homer, both in the left field seats.
Hample tweeted that it was the third time he’d snagged two home run balls during the same game.