5 – Harper steals home off Hamels
While we’ve had a lot of home runs so far, but you could argue that nothing signifies Bryce Harper more than this moment. Still in his rookie season with the Washington Nationals, early on in the year, he proved he was here to stay against a primetime matchup against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Harper came up in the first inning with two outs, so Phillies starter Cole Hamels decided to send a message to the youngster with fastball way inside. The left-hander even admitted after the game that it was a cheap shot at the Nats young rookie telling Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer “I was trying to hit him. I’m not going to deny it.”
But after putting Harper on base, the outfielder was able to respond in the best way possible. He went first-to-third on a Jayson Werth single, and then when Hamels lazily tossed a pick-off attempt to first base, Harper sent his own message by swiping home.
It’s not so much what the actual steal meant in the grand scheme of the game, but more what it signified for the young rookie and his attitude to the game. Harper talked to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post about his memory of the incident back in 2015 when he then faced Hamels for the first time since that day:
"“It was just like, boom, boom, boom. One thing happened, one thing happened, and it led to the steal of home. Fans were going crazy. The team was going crazy. I don’t know if Tracy was very excited because he had an RBI chance against Hamels. It was fun. It was a cool opportunity. I’m actually kind of happy now that he did drill me, so I could have that opportunity.”"
You could collectively hear the “Yeh, you’re gonna be alright kid,” from everyone around baseball. The incident firmly established Harper as the face of the new breed Nationals that were set to take the league by storm.