So good and so young is Bryce Harper, however, that he explodes baseball convention. He has hit the longest home run in the history of Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, and he did so in January, at age 16, with a blast that would have flown farther than the measured 502 feet had it not smashed off the back wall of the dome. Still only 16, Harper stands 6'3", weighs 205 pounds, has faster bat speed than Mark McGwire in his prime and runs so fast that he scored on wild pitches six times this season from second base. As a catcher he picks off runners from his knees, and when he pitches, he throws a fastball that has been clocked at 96 mph.
hit one line drive so hard that the second baseman jumped out of its way, as if dodging gunfire.
It was after one of those player-for-hire trips that Sheri began to understand that her son was really special. Bryce, then 12, was playing in a tournament in Alabama on a field with 250-foot fences. It was a trip Sheri could not attend. When Bryce phoned home, Sheri asked him how he'd done. "I did all right," he replied.
Later one of the coaches called Sheri. "Did he say anything to you?" the coach asked.
"No, not really," Sheri said.
"He went 12 for 12. Eleven home runs and a double."
Last year, as part of USA Baseball's 16U team in the Pan Am Championships in Mexico, Harper signed autographs for 45 minutes, until the wee hours of the morning, after pitching the 11th inning of a 3--1 win over Cuba. He batted .571 in the tournament, with four home runs in eight games, a 1.214 slugging average, a .676 on-base percentage and six stolen bases in six tries-all team highs among regular players-and was named MVP.
Wow this is like Josh Hamilton all over again.
Or in S.I.'s case,
The immediate interest might be that he is 6'5", 220 pounds, still growing, and that he set national high school career records for home runs (70), grand slams (10), RBIs (290) and runs scored (250). That he was 40-7 as a pitcher and struck out 528 batters in 285⅔ innings. That he threw 52 touchdown passes, six in one game against Hartland in 1997 That he averaged 22 points in basketball, and on and on...a 4.0 student, co-valedictorian. But these are only the latest results. He always has been front and center in whatever he has done.
"When he was 11, playing for his Little League all-star team in Utah, he hit seven home runs in seven consecutive at bats," Drew's father, Dan, says.
He was the best hitter in the state, the best pitcher in the state, the best quarterback in the state, the best punter in the country. He could knock down the 20-foot jumper. He got an A in calculus, an A in every subject he ever took at Brighton. It was lovely and disconcerting to watch at the same time. How could one kid do so much so well?
The baseball numbers were staggering. His batting average was .605 for his senior season, .527 for his career. The day he broke the national home run record, which was 66, he hit three homers in the game, drove in 10 runs. As a pitcher he struck out 20 of 21 batters against Walled Lake Western High last spring, the final batter bunting to avert a 21-for-21 afternoon. He hit the ball so hard so often in batting practice that Carrow wouldn't let his infielders stand at their positions for fear they'd be hit.
If he put the sweet spot of a wood bat on that ball, it would have gone farther.Originally Posted by KnockoutNed
That 502ft HR is deceiving as well, since he hit it with an aluminum bat. I'd like to see him hit a homer that far with a wooden bat.
Originally Posted by Kiddin Like Jason
His front leg hitch irks the hell out of me.
His bat speed is stupid.
Scoring on wild pitches from second base can be deceiving. I wonder what kind of times he runs.