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‘T-R-A-I-T-O-R’: Bryce Harper booed in his first trip back to Nats Park

Bryce Harper walks to the plate amid boos from the Nationals Park crowd. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Bryce Harper returned to Washington for his first game at Nationals Park as an opposing player, a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, the superstar who left — and he got booed. A lot.

There were some cheers, for sure, but boy, oh boy, were there a lot of boos. Boos when his name was announced in the Phillies lineup, boos while a tribute video played on the big screen, boos during every at-bat, and yes, boos when he got his first hit of the night.

Earlier Tuesday, Harper thanked Nationals fans with an Instagram post, and perhaps he thought that bought him some good will with Nats fans. He told reporters in a pregame news conference that he’d understand if he heard boos. But there was a part of him, however small, that wanted to be welcomed back with a cheer given what Washington means to him.

“Of course, I think there’ll be some boos and things like that. It’s part of the game,” Harper said. “I think there’ll be some cheers as well. I’ll always remember the memories we had here, the excitement and all the screams and cheers. I’ll always remember that.”

Those memories may be fading after Tuesday’s game, for Harper and Nationals fans. The cheers were few and far between, while the boos were plentiful.

First boos of the night

It didn’t even take until Harper’s first at-bat for the boo-birds to arrive at Nationals Park. When his name was announced as part of the visiting team’s lineup, the reception was frosty, and it continued during a tribute video played on the Jumbotron.

Harper’s first at-bat

After the boos rained down during the lineup announcement, this probably should have been expected. Harper walked to the plate to face Max Scherzer for his first at-bat and the boos reverberated around Nationals Park. There were also some cheers. But mostly boos, which only grew louder as the at-bat began.

“If you closed your eyes, you’d think it was October,” Bob Carpenter said on the MASN broadcast.

Here’s how his first at-bat went: Strike. Strike. Foul ball. Ball. Ball. Strike swinging. So Round 1 went to Scherzer. The cheers for the K were big.

Scherzer, who allowed the first two batters to reach base before Harper, got out of the inning unscathed. And as the new Phillie jogged to his usual spot in right field, you guessed it, more boos.

More boos

When Harper stepped to the plate for his second at-bat of the night. Booooooooooooooooooos.

Harper managed to work Scherzer to a full count, but the Nationals ace got strikeout No. 2 against his former teammate and his fifth K of the night.

Harper’s first hit

The Nationals fans weren’t backing off Harper the second time around. As soon as the slugger began his third walk to the plate in the fifth inning, the crowd erupted once again with a booming hum of boos.

There was a brief reprieve as the count reached 1-2, when a “Let’s go Max!” cheer broke out, but then the boos returned. Harper got his first hit of the night soon after, a one-out double that advanced Segura to third, and the boos stopped as Nationals Park went quiet.

Harper RBI

Harper got his first RBI against his old team in the sixth against Matt Grace. Harper was his usual expressive self afterward, waving to his teammates from second base amid boos. The crowd had been tamped down by a bases-clearing double by Jean Segura just before Harper’s fourth at-bat. After Harper’s hit, “M-V-P!” chants could be heard from Phillies fans. (Note: The chant was for Rhys Hoskins, who was making his way to the plate.)

Harper homers

With the Phillies up 6-0 in the eighth, Harper blasted a two-out, 458-foot home run to right field for his second and third RBI of the night. There were probably boos but they were drowned out by Phillies fans chanting “We got Harper!” in a rapidly-clearing ballpark. And yeah, Harper flipped his bat before rounding the bases. What did you expect?

Crowds came prepared for Harper’s return

Nationals fans want Bryce Harper to know, they are moving on. (Video: Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)

Read more on Harper and the Nationals:

How Bryce Harper went from ‘I’m going to be a National’ to ‘We’re going to Philly’

Bryce Harper finally thanks Nats fans: ‘You will always hold a special place in my heart’

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser deletes tweet attacking Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper loves Silver Diner. Silver Diner knows.

Busloads of Phillies fans are coming to Nationals Park for Bryce Harper’s return

For Opening Day, Nats fans ripped, defaced and marked-up their Bryce Harper jerseys

Bryce Harper still matters to me. Sorry.

Bryce Harper should have a legacy in Washington. Why can’t I find it?

Archive: Favorite Nationals Park memories, from Bryce Harper to ‘The Mayor’

Max Scherzer on facing Bryce Harper as Nationals’ opponent: ‘This is just Round 1’

Nationals-Phillies series preview: Bryce Harper makes his first of many returns

Analysis: If the Nationals want to keep Anthony Rendon, it’s really going to cost them

Thomas Boswell: Thanks to Trea Turner’s heroics, Nationals can sweep aside a bleak beginning

Barry Svrluga: When it comes to Anthony Rendon, lock him up — for the sake of the Nationals’ future

Max Scherzer thinks he can get better with age, even if logic says otherwise