J.C. Smith was running on a treadmill on Monday night when his phone started buzzing with text messages.
“People were saying, ‘Yo, you gotta check ‘SportsCenter’,’ ” Smith recalled Tuesday. Video of Bryce Harper sporting a custom ‘Make Baseball Fun Again’ hat while talking to reporters after the Nationals’ season-opening win against the Braves was on “SportsCenter,” but friends weren’t texting Smith about Harper’s much-discussed lid. They wanted to make sure he saw Harper’s ‘202’ T-shirt.
Harper’s red T-shirt is from Bailiwick Clothing Co., a D.C.-themed apparel brand that Smith and his brother, Jeff, founded last summer. The Smiths are originally from the Cleveland area, but have lived in D.C. for nearly a decade. They’ve embraced the city every bit as much as Harper, a Las Vegas native who talks often about the bond he feels with his second home and is fond of the hashtag #DCorNothing.
“We fell in love with the energy and the spirit of the city and the people,” said Smith, who works for a manufacturing firm full-time. “We wanted to do something that represented the spirit and energy of the city, and we didn’t see anybody doing this type of stuff.”
Smith sent Harper the ‘202’ T-shirt, which features the three stars and two bars of the D.C. flag, and a hat during spring training, along with a note wishing him luck this season.
“I had no expectation that he would wear it, but I did it on a whim and said, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’” Smith said. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Bailiwick gained a few more customers, as well as Twitter followers and retweets on Tuesday.
— BailiwickClothingCo. (@BailiwickCrewDC) April 5, 2016
Smith, a long-suffering Browns fan, declined to comment about Robert Griffin III signing with Cleveland.
“The Redskins really amuse me, I’ll say that,” Smith said. “I’ve lived here long enough that they’re my second-favorite team after the Browns.”
Not coming tomorrow on the Bog: The story behind the necklace that Harper wore on Opening Day.