Bryce Harper took batting practice in a black hoodie Thursday. He had cut the sleeves off, as he usually does.
On the front, instead of the usual Nationals or BH logo, was the phrase #VegasStrong in white lettering, a nod to Harper’s home town. More than 50 people were killed in the shooting rampage that took place on the Las Vegas Strip earlier this week, and Harper — a Vegas kid born and raised — acknowledged it Thursday.
“It’s been pretty surreal. Just talking to friends, talking to family that were definitely at the concert, and seeing things that have happened and transpired from that,” Harper said. “It just goes to show how strong our community is in Vegas and how much of a small-knit community it can be.”
Pitching coach Mike Maddux also hails from Vegas. His daughter, niece and nephew were at the concert. They all made it home safely.
“It’s definitely an unbelievable thing that happened,” Harper said. “And you never want that to happen to anybody across the world and or anything like that and for it to happen in your home town, it definitely hits home.”
Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant, also a Vegas native, addressed the shooting when the Cubs arrived at Nationals Park Thursday. His soon-to-be sister-in-law and friends were at the concert, feeling the shooter. All of them got home unharmed.
“It’s been tough. Obviously, with Bryce over there too, we kind of been talking. We play baseball for a living, but there’s way more important things, too. We’re definitely doing all we can to help,” Bryant said. “This offseason, I know I’ll be doing all I can. I was born and raised in Vegas, and there’s actually people that live outside the city in Vegas. It’s not just downtown at the Strip. So it’s been really touching to see the community come together like that. The response from everybody. They have way too much blood being donated, which is unbelievable just to see how many people come together when we need it.”
Bryant and Harper shot a public service announcement Thursday about the shooting and the victims fund set up in Clark County, where Vegas is located. The Boras corporation organized the shoot along with Turner Broadcasting, which will broadcast the NLDS. That PSA will air before the game Friday, both on the Nationals Park scoreboard and on local media outlets.
In addition to the hoodie, Harper has personalized cleats honoring his home town, which he revealed on his Instagram on Thursday.
His brother, Bryan, has also been posting to social media about the shooting.