Super Nationals star Bryce Harper wearing DC 51st State tee-shirt. Mayor Bowser sign him up! pic.twitter.com/5AzPSPrlql
— Tom Sherwood (@tomsherwood) June 13, 2016
J.C. Smith was driving to a work meeting when he got a call from his brother Jeffrey and had to pull over. It was happening — again. Bryce Harper, the Bryce Harper, was giving an interview in the Nats locker room wearing one of Smith’s designs, the “51st State,” a slim-fitting scoop-neck cotton declaration of D.C.’s statehood.
Since then J.C. Smith, 35, and Jeffrey Smith, 36, co-owners of the Bailiwick Clothing T-shirt company, have had a lot of “awesome problems.” Make that hundreds of them.
“We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of sales since Bryce,” J.C. Smith said.
For the past two days, the brothers, who are originally from Cleveland but have lived in the District “as long as Obama,” have been working overtime to fill all the back orders. It’s a tough undertaking seeing as how Bailiwick, the company they started just nine months ago, is their side gig.
“We’re still pretty new,” added J.C. Smith, who along with his brother, works a 9-to-5. Neither of them are trained fashion designers. And yet Harper, the perpetually suave outfielder, has been seen wearing not one, but two of Bailiwick’s creations. On Opening Day in April, Harper wore the company’s signature “202” shirt, which then promptly sold out.
According to J.C. Smith, the brothers have an “in” with the Nats, a personal connection he doesn’t want to disclose. Basically they send over their products (see celebs do get stuff for free) in the high hopes that a marquee player will wear one of their T-shirts and be featured on TV.
Harper, a Las Vegas native, has yet to make a public statement (aside from the sartorial) about his stance on D.C. statehood, but Smith, a solid proponent of the 51st state, said that the Nats star was “a really sharp dude. He shows that he loves D.C., and he knows what’s going on in D.C.”
“It’d be nice to hang out with him and have a beer,” J.C. Smith added. “I’d tell him ‘Thanks, keep wearing our shirts,’ and I’d get his input for the next one.”
Smith hasn’t connected with Harper yet. But if they do, he might want to make that beer a bottle of water. Harper, 23, who appeared in ESPN’s body issue in 2015, doesn’t imbibe.