When I was 18 years old I was in a high school play. To conclude my senior year a few friends and I thought it would be a change of pace to finish off four years. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was a blast, I was the camel.
At 18 Bryce Harper is making $10 million and living every kid’s dream of playing professional baseball.
Harper and his Hagerstown Suns visited Charleston, West Virginia this week to take on the Power, class-A affiliate of the Pirates. Of course, I had to see the phenom for myself.
Appalachia Power Park is an intimate place to watch a game with just a single level of seats wrapping around home plate and down the lines. Situated just off of downtown, the park is fairly new and modern.
It was my first time here and really one of my first times spending an extended day in the WV capital. I had a job interview down there and made a day out of it touring my potential new home. I could think of no better way to cap off a productive day than at a ball game.
I was coming to the game regardless, so having the chance to see Bryce Harper live was just an added incentive. I was not alone. About 20 people were waiting near the clubhouse for Harper, specifically. I was worried he would bypass the autograph seekers as I heard stories that he was a jerk and already at 18 he carried himself with the arrogance of Barry Bonds.
He exemplified a bit of cockiness but was still cordial as he stopped to sign for everybody.
I got him to sign a Baseball America cover from March in which he leads a listing of baseball’s top 100 prospects. After the game he stopped to sign again and I had him sign my scorebook.
In the game, Harper looked like the kid he is.
He went 0-for-3 with a walk and was caught stealing. In the walk, he showed bunt on every single pitch and was walked in four. It was a move my little league coach had me do to draw the pitcher off and get on baseball easily. Harper’s trick paid off for him, too. He did make a nice sliding catch in right field to rob a for sure double, maybe triple.
The Suns were victorious 3-0. Offense was hard to come by for the Power.
It was a fun time just being at a minor league game. The crowd, as a whole, was sparse but I still had a great time. The quirkiness of of games like this are the real draw for families and casual fans. The quality of baseball is still high, but many miscues were made across the diamond. That’s what minor league is for. Some of these prospects will never sniff the big leagues and in all honesty will flash out very soon. But players, like Harper, have a legitimate shot to be major league stars.
The Power also had a future big leaguer on their roster in pitcher Jameson Taillon. He was chosen just one pick after Harper in last year’s draft. He made his debut two nights after I was down there and walked Harper in a rain shortened game. Taillon is just 19 years old but consistently was clocked at 100 mph in his 2 innings of work.
I’m a good four years older than these guys, and I would give anything to be in their shoes.