Bryce Harper’s voice broke a bit as he talked about the motivation behind his Harper’s Heroes program, which benefits children battling cancer. He didn’t break down into tears or anything like that; he just offered an apology for the change in pitch and returned to his usual cadence. For what amounted to a corporate appearance in which he announced his partnership with New Era on a limited edition line of hats, that crack qualified as a significant display of emotion.
“This is something that really hits home for me,” Harper said. “Sorry, it gets me a little bit emotional talking about it. I had a couple friends and family members that have gone through it. So when I was growing up, I never wanted to do it for the cameras or for the TVs or anything like that. This was all just for me, to bring the families in and see the smiles and get them away from the everyday life and that struggle.”
Part of the proceeds from the sale of the hats will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. Harper designed the hats on a “cold January day” at the New Era offices in New York City, according to the company’s representative Bill Adams. He wore one of the navy blue hats pictured above as a display of grey beanies stood beside the podium.
“I really enjoy the fashion side. … I really enjoy going out and trying to get different things out there that people would like to wear,” Harper said. “I really went in there thinking about a vintage-style cap that people could wear with anything, if they wanted to wear it to the ballpark, to the grocery store or anything. Also, for the ski cap, maybe something they could wear in the playoffs …”
Harper’s Heroes brings children who are fighting cancer, along with their families, out to Nationals Park to meet Harper and enjoy a game. Harper meets the families, answers questions for the kids and often keeps track of them after their visit. He founded the program in partnership with the Leukemia and Lymphona Society in 2013.
“We’ve been proud of him since the day he stepped foot in here. He’s a credit to the Nationals organization,” said Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo, who by then had put on one of the navy blue hats himself. “You talk about faces of the franchise, you couldn’t have a better ambassador not only for the game of baseball and Major League Baseball, but also this city and District of Columbia here and Washington. He’s a true Washingtonian in his heart. He loves the area, loves the fan base, and he’s a young player who is making an impact on and off the field which endears him to our fan base here in Washington and to us in the front office.”
Dusty Baker wore one of them during his pregame media availability, too.