Bryce Harper was a hitting superstar that put him on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16. Yes, 16!
Three years later, during his first home game as a Major Leaguer, he nearly threw a runner out at home plate while standing 300 feet away in left field. It was clear one week into his professional career, Harper had the tools to play at the highest level.
But beyond the physical skills, Harper brings an intangible not found among all players. He carries a boyish enthusiasm to the game – an infectious energy level that gets his teammates and the team’s fans excited to be involved in the same game.
Harper immediately demonstrated how excited he was to be in the Big Leagues in his first season while with the Washington Nationals when he was called up in late April his rookie season.
“I am excited I am here. Hopefully I will calm down,” he joked before his first home game on May 1. “But I will give 110 percent. I love the game of baseball. “
In an interview with Junior Baseball, Harper spoke of how the love of the game should be the foundation for young players to show their enthusiasm on the field. “I just say go out there and have fun and play hard. I don’t worry about anything else,” said Harper.
Bryce Harper's Tips to Put Energy in Your Game:
1. Part of keeping a high energy level in the game is keeping the same intensity during practice. For example, for those outfielders-in-training out there, “get out there every day and try to get as many reads (off the bat) as you can,” Harper advises. “Read as many angles as you can.”
2. Consider keeping fresh by playing other sports. “Play as many sports as you can. Be sure you are having fun,” he says.
3. But even if you are playing other sports, don’t drop baseball entirely during the off-season. “Go to the batting cage with your dad. Hit off a machine. Do soft toss in the garage. Swing a heavy bat. There are a multitude of things you can do,” Harper says.
4. Never forget that no matter what, baseball should be fun. “I just say go out there and have fun and play hard,” Harper said. “Don’t worry about anything else. When you’re at an early age, you’re playing for sodas and cupcakes.”
Harper made his big league debut with the Nationals on April 28, 2012 in Los Angeles against the Dodgers and he ripped a double over the head of the center fielder for his first hit.
In his second home game he had three hits, including two doubles. And in his fourth big league game he scored the tying run in the last of the ninth on a walk-off homer by Ian Desmond. “He plays the game the right way, from start to finish,” Desmond told masnsports.com.
To date Harper has displayed the all the tools that got him on that Sports Illustrated cover three years ago.
But while he has a world of natural talent, he recognizes he must work hard every day to improve his game.
“I want to win every single night,” Harper said after joining the Nats. “It is just a blessing to be up here. “I am trying to stay up here as long as I can.” Harper gives a lot of credits to his parents, who attended many of his minor league games and were also at his big league debut in Los Angeles. “I love my mother and father very much,” he said.