On the morning of his first game at Nationals Park as a visitor, Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper finally said goodbye to the organization and fan base that embraced him for the first seven years of his major league career.

In an Instagram post featuring an illustration of Harper with his arms raised after winning the Home Run Derby last year in D.C., which was perhaps the highlight of his time with the Nationals, the 26-year-old wrote that he was “so blessed to have been able to play for a fan base that cared so much about our team each and every night."

“You will always hold a special place in my heart no matter what,” Harper wrote.

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If you would have told me 5 years ago I would be walking into Nationals Park as an opposing player, I would’ve told you that you were crazy. Five years later, I’m doing just that. I remember the first day I walked into Nats Park. My first base hit. My first home run. And, of course, my first standing ovation. Nationals fans delivered that first ovation. The things that I will miss most are the relationships I gained on a personal level with so many of the Nationals staff and workers around the ballpark. Every day I walked in, I got a smile or shared a laugh with you. I especially want to thank The Lerner Family and Mike Rizzo for the unwavering support they showed me during my tenure in DC. The city of DC was home. Filomena’s, The Silver Diner, The Italian store, and countless other places helped make it feel like home. You, Nationals fans, made me one of your own for the entire time I was a part of the Nationals organization. I’m so blessed to have been able to play for a fan base that cared so much about our team each and every night. You will always hold a special place in my heart no matter what. I look forward to continuing Harpers Heroes with LLS in the DMV as well as making sure the legacy fields bearing my name are the best youth fields in town! When I run on the field tonight I am sure to hear some boos, but I will always remember the cheers and the screams that are still with me right now, as I start my new chapter. So for that, DC, THANK YOU.

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bryceharper3) on

Harper recalled the first standing ovation he received in Washington and remembered some of the places, including the Silver Diner, that made D.C. “feel like home.” He said he never could have imagined returning to Nationals Park wearing another uniform. Here’s the full text of Harper’s farewell:

“If you would have told me 5 years ago I would be walking into Nationals Park as an opposing player, I would’ve told you that you were crazy. Five years later, I’m doing just that. I remember the first day I walked into Nats Park. My first base hit. My first home run. And, of course, my first standing ovation. Nationals fans delivered that first ovation. The things that I will miss most are the relationships I gained on a personal level with so many of the Nationals staff and workers around the ballpark. Every day I walked in, I got a smile or shared a laugh with you. I especially want to thank The Lerner Family and Mike Rizzo for the unwavering support they showed me during my tenure in DC.
The city of DC was home. Filomena’s, The Silver Diner, The Italian store, and countless other places helped make it feel like home. You, Nationals fans, made me one of your own for the entire time I was a part of the Nationals organization. I’m so blessed to have been able to play for a fan base that cared so much about our team each and every night. You will always hold a special place in my heart no matter what. I look forward to continuing Harpers Heroes with LLS in the DMV as well as making sure the legacy fields bearing my name are the best youth fields in town! When I run on the field tonight I am sure to hear some boos, but I will always remember the cheers and the screams that are still with me right now, as I start my new chapter. So for that, DC, THANK YOU.
Instagram

It’s become customary for outgoing athletes to thank their former organizations and fan bases via social media or the local newspaper. Nationals free agent acquisition Patrick Corbin did the former, writing a heartfelt goodbye to Diamondbacks fans on Instagram after signing with Washington during the offseason. Harper’s former Nationals teammate, Max Scherzer, opted for the latter, taking out a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press a few days after signing with the Nationals as a free agent in 2015.

Athletes typically issue these formal farewells within a few days of joining their new team, but Harper waited a full month after agreeing to a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies. Harper’s apparent cold shoulder toward D.C. since he signed with Philadelphia didn’t go unnoticed by Nationals fans and local media members, some of whom suggested in mid-March that it was already too late for Harper to make amends.

After the Nationals’ final home game of the regular season, Harper posted a nine-photo grid on Instagram with a simple message — “To the fans and the city of DC, thank you!” In hindsight, that was Harper’s first goodbye.

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To the fans and the city of DC, thank you!📍

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bryceharper3) on

Tuesday’s farewell came one day after Harper and his wife, Kayla, announced that the couple’s first baby is due in August.

“Philly raised little man will be,” wrote Harper, who wouldn’t have imagined such a thing five years ago.

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