Editor Note- This post is the second post written by a MattsBats.com kid correspondent. I created this program to allow kids interested in sportswriting learn from the experiences I gained by starting Matt’s Bats. This is an opportunity for them to gain writing experience and show off their impressive work. If you, your child, a family member, or anyone you know may be interested, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s post comes from Ben B-P of Maryland! He is in sixth grade, and is a HUGE baseball fan who loves the Washington Nationals. He loves playing all sports but especially enjoys baseball and soccer.
Dear Bryce Harper,
You were only 17 when you signed a contract with the Nationals in 2010. I was just 4 years old then, discovering baseball and becoming a Nationals fan. I was learning math by learning the stats of players. I was curious to learn about players and understand the stats.
I remember your first game with the Nationals against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 28, 2012 when you were just 19. You played amazing and your first hit was a double. You also had an RBI that game. I was 6 years old, and I remember yelling #Natitude all the time.
Since 2012, there have been so many exhilarating moments watching you play. I was at Nationals Park on Opening Day in 2013 when you hit two home runs. I was sitting in the left field stands screaming for you.
Every winter, I went to Nats Winterfest and would try to find you. One year I got to do the baseball clinic with you. I had a great hit and ran the bases. When I crossed home plate, I was so happy. I tipped my hat at you and you smiled at me.
I definitely wasn’t there for every moment and big game you had but I would watch highlight videos in slow motion to study your technique. I read sports stories about you. I went to as many games as I could and always tried to sit near you in the outfield and yell for you during the game.
One of my favorite moments was rooting for you at the Home Run Derby last summer. I left my summer camp in North Carolina for 36 hours to be able to go to the Home Run Derby. I was standing as close as I could to the left field. You were down 18-9 with a minute left. My heart was racing and I was stressed. You needed 10 home runs in that minute. I knew you could do it but I was still nervous. You did it! Everyone was shouting. I was so happy that you won the Home Run Derby. You were my favorite player and were playing in your home stadium. I was so lucky to be there for that moment. I will never forget it.
A lot of articles have been written about how you are really disciplined about training and practice. Your dedication and focus is something that can inspire kids to work hard and always practice. In 2012, you were the youngest position player selected for the All-Star Game and you were the NL Rookie of the Year.
Pitchers and teams sometimes are afraid you are going to have big hits to drive in runs or crushing home runs. They don’t always want to face you. In 2016, after being walked and hit by a pitch, you were the first MLB player to get on base 7 times without a single at-bat when the Nats lost to the Cubs 4-3 in 13 innings. That must have been really, really frustrating, but you stayed focused and you knew you had to do what it takes and what your team needs and not just what is most fun. That season alone, you were intentionally walked 20 times. In 7 years, you were intentionally walked 70 times!
Bryce, you have meant so much to me. Whenever I was been afraid I would remind myself that if Bryce Harper were here he could get through it no problem. So I did. If someone doubted me or that I could doing something I would say to myself, “Bryce Harper could do this and he would ignore people who are doubting him so I should also.”
I remember being asked, “Who is someone you look up to? Who motivates you?” I would always say “Bryce Harper.” My teachers, camp counselors, coaches, family, and friends have always known that you have meant so much to me.
I love baseball. There are a lot of chances in a game. Anything can happen at any time. There is strategy in each game and the season is really long. I love a lot of things about baseball. Since I started loving the game you have been my favorite player. I really wished you stayed in DC. Until Thursday afternoon, I believed you would stay. I know you picked the Phillies for a reason, specifically 330 million of them. Most of my friends are really upset and some are calling you a traitor. Other fans, like me, feel good for you and for baseball. I really want to see you play in Philly and I will definitely be at Nationals Park cheering for you when you play.
For the city of DC, I bet most Nationals fans will miss going to Nationals games and cheering for you and trying to get your attention during the game. I even think some Nationals fans are going to miss people heckling you at the ballpark. Whenever someone asks if I am still going to root for you I say, “ That’s a clown question bro!” Good luck with the season… but I am just saying I hope that the Nationals win the division and the Phillies get the wildcard.