MIAMI — Last week, when Bryce Harper was selected to participate in the Home Run Derby, he knew who he’d want to be the one throwing to him. But until Sunday afternoon, as he packed for his second trip to the All-Star game, the Washington Nationals outfielder did not reveal his choice.
Who would get the honor, then?
“Pops,” Harper said with a smile.
Harper’s father, Ron, will throw to him in Monday night’s Home Run Derby and the man who has thrown his son more batting practice than anyone will get to do it on one of the game’s biggest stages.
“I’m excited to share that moment with him,” Harper said.
Ron Harper, a retired ironworker, will follow in the footsteps of another major league dad in throwing to his son in the derby. Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano’s father, Jose, a former Astros pitcher, threw to him in the 2011 Home Run Derby, which Cano won.
That year, Harper took part in some of the All-Star festivities too — as a minor leaguer in the MLB Futures Game. He’s been named to the NL All-Star team in the two seasons since.
Cano will captain the American League Home Run Derby team and will be joined by Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder and A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Harper will, of course, be on the National League team along with captain David Wright of the Mets, Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez and Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer.
As Harper wheeled his suitcases out the door of the visitors’ clubhouse at Marlins Park on Sunday evening, shortstop Ian Desmond screamed after him.
“Hey Bryce,” he said, “swing hard!”
“Swing hard, in case you hit it,” reliever Craig Stammen chimed in.