Bryce Harper the baseball player did what he usually does during the 2019 MLB season, hitting 30+ home runs and 100+ RBIs while providing fans with the energy that he’s brought to the diamond throughout his career. This all occurred while Bryce Harper the person went through some major changes this year. Over the offseason, he left the Washington Nationals after agreeing to an historic contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, and in August, he became a father for the first time.
Things weren’t perfect on the diamond, as the Phillies missed out on the postseason in year one of 13 on Harper’s deal, but the former NL MVP is optimistic about the future in Philadelphia, as he was sold on the organization’s commitment to winning in the longterm when he put pen to paper on a deal. He was still productive, though, and is the rock on which the Phillies will build for the foreseeable future.
Uproxx Sports caught up with Harper through his partnership with ACUVUE to talk the big changes in his life this year, the 10-year anniversary of his first Sports Illustrated cover, and how throwing out a running compares to hitting a dinger.
You’re known for your ability to hit for power, but you also have one of the best outfield arms in baseball, leading the NL in assists. What gives you a bigger rush, hitting a homer or throwing out a runner? Why?
They both feel pretty dang good, but I’d have to say throwing out a runner. It’s such a momentum changer for both sides.
Is there ever something of a cat-and-mouse game with baserunners who you want to get to run on you or do instincts just take over in that situation every time?
It’s usually such a bang-bang timing thing, so instincts usually take over, but there’s something extra about throwing someone out that tests you or doesn’t think you’re going to throw.
You signed a deal that will keep you in Philly a long, long time. What sold you on spending the next decade-plus in the city?
It came down to the commitment to winning for the longterm. My wife and I wanted to be somewhere for the rest of my career that wanted to win.
How long does it take to get settled into a new city when you make such a major move for the first time in your career?
There’s an adjustment for sure. Finding a place to live and all that comes with learning your new surroundings. Thank god for my wife, Kayla.
Philly fans can be very, very expressive. What’s the funniest thing you heard someone say or saw someone do this year?
Can’t think of one thing in particular. They are just passionate about their team and I love that.
It’s been a decade since the Sports Illustrated “Chosen One” cover. What advice would 26-year-old All-Star Bryce Harper give 16-year-old Bryce Harper to prepare him for the journey ahead of him?
Just enjoy the ride and keep loving the game you fell in love with as a kid.
In addition to the new team, another major moment came when you became a dad for the first time. What’s the best advice you got from someone in baseball about being a father?
I’ve received a lot of good tips. I think just balancing out supporting your wife and being there for our son, and still getting your rest and work in. It’s all about balance.
Know you have a food-specific IG, HarpEats, that you run with your wife. What’s the best meal you’ve had since entering Major League Baseball, and what’s the most IG-friendly meal you’ve had in that time?
We are big foodies and love to explore on the road. Too many good choices.
Do you have a go-to cheesesteak spot in Philly yet? If so, what is it and why? If not, what are some of the best you’ve had?
I’ve tried multiple over the years. Too hard to pick just one, but got to have whiz.
What do you have going on with ACUVUE?
Throughout the year, I’ve been wearing ACUVUE OASYS with Transitions. I think it’s really helped me on and off the field, really a new season with these contacts and being able to wear them this whole year, from Spring Training on, it’s been huge for me. I know other guys have been wearing them as well, just really excited to keep wearing them in the sunlight, with the glares, and everything else. It’s been good.
How do these lenses help you, specifically, when the ball is hit up into the air during day games when the sun’s out?
In years past, not having the ACUVUE OASYS with Transitions, it was always really hard because the of the sun — we call it the Sun Monster as a joke — being able to see the ball, especially if it’s right in the middle of the sun. It’s really help me keep my eyes open and not squint as much, be able to stay on the ball a little bit longer, look at the sun a little bit longer than usual. At that point, it’s been a lot better this year, that all started with Spring Training, I think, in Florida, being able to use them each day out there has helped me a lot. Then getting into the season, it’s been really, really good. I haven’t lost a ball in the sun this year, and hopefully it keeps it that way.