PHILADELPHIA — Bryce Harper said he will put the history he’s made this season in perspective when the season is over. All season, he has avoided talking about accomplishments after games, praising wins and teammates instead. With his own personal statistics — if not certain umpires, fans, or opponents — Harper has stayed determinedly deferential. So after he hit his 40th home run of the season Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park, he didn’t really want to talk about it.
“I’ll answer that at the end of the year,” Harper said. “I’m just thankful we won that ballgame tonight.”
But Harper knows baseball history, and 40 means something. He brought a ball out to right field with him after hitting that home run in the top of the seventh inning. The fan who caught the homer, wearing a throwback Phillies jersey in the first row of the right center field stands, threw it down. Harper signed another ball and tossed it up. He then threw the other ball in the dugout, flashed four fingers, then a fist.
“I’m thankful for that,” Harper said. “Pretty cool to have that ball.”
Harper’s teammates were silent about the accomplishment too, at least initially. Clint Robinson whacked Harper on the backside as he came back to the dugout and guys who had been hitting in the cage came up for high fives. The rest of his teammates stayed put. Cameras showed Wilson Ramos, for example, sitting back on the front bench with a smirk on his face. A few moments later, the silent treatment often reserved for a rookie’s first big league home run was over. They all celebrated.
“It’s been remarkable. It’s been fun to watch,” Jayson Werth said. “I’m proud of him. He’s come a long way in a short period of time. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s become a superstar player right in front of our eyes. And I think he’s got a lot to learn and a long way to go, too. I’ve said it before, but when he’s 30 years old, he’s going to be a hell of a player.”
Gio Gonzalez said he’d never played with anyone who hit 40 home runs in a season.
“It says a lot about a guy that’s only 22 years old,” Gonzalez said. “He’s got the world in the palm of his hand man. It’s fun to see him play. The sky’s the limit is an understatement. I think he’s got more than that.”
Statistics say only six other players have hit 40 home runs at age 22 or younger. All six are, or will almost certainly be, in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
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