Philadelphia Phillies: Harper’s first shot was much more than a home run

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

In Game 2 of Bryce Harper’s tenure with the Phillies, he did much more than just hitting a home run- he brought baseball back to the city of Philadelphia.

The roar of the crowd was thunderous. The crack of the bat reverberated throughout the packed house at Citizen’s Bank Park, and the nearly 44,000 in attendance leapt to their feet, a synchronized cacophony channeling the release of nearly eight years of frustration and unfulfilled promises. It was loud, and it was beautiful to behold.

Baseball is back, and so are the Philadelphia Phillies.

No, this was not a game being played in October under the lights on national television with World Series implications. This was Game 2 of 162, the first series of the 2019 season against a hated rival on a warm Saturday in April. But don’t tell that to this fan base, and certainly, don’t tell that to Bryce Harper.

The three-hundred-thirty million dollar man enjoyed a fairly quiet opening day, his presence providing more benefit for teammates like Rhys Hoskins and Maikel Franco who both belted some beautiful home run balls of their own. But it was in game number two on Saturday where Harper formally introduced himself to the Phillies fan base.

With the Phillies leading 6-4 late in the game, Harper faced former Phillies draft pick and now Atlanta Braves southpaw reliever Jesse Biddle. Biddle’s offering stayed up over the plate, and Harper absolutely demolished it. The ball left his bat at a scorching 113 MPH and left no doubt as to where it was headed. And that’s when the goosebumps came.

The moment was reminiscent of Brad Lidge’s final pitch. It felt the same as Jimmy Rollins‘ walk-off against Los Angeles. It sent shivers down your spine the same way Matt Stairs did when he launched his infamous moonshot into the good night. The sound of the crowd, which simultaneously exploded as if the Babe himself had just sent his own blast into orbit, was deafening.

There are a myriad of ways to describe what occurred on that Saturday afternoon in April. It will probably be different for every fan, including those who saw it live. But one thing can be said with almost absolute certainty: Harper’s home run wasn’t just something fans of the Philadelphia Phillies witnessed. No, they felt it, and they felt it collectively.

It’s likely to be a lasting memory to all who observed it. You’ll likely remember the loved ones you spoke to, the friends you shared it with, and the pure joy you felt watching the replay over and over again. Yes, it was a special moment, and for good reason.

That home run blast by Harper meant so much more to the city of Philadelphia, and the Phillies fan base than just an added run on the score sheet. Like the metaphorical lighting of a beacon, it signaled the beginning of a new era at Citizens Bank Park.

For every fan that waded through the slog of 2013-2017, enduring the likes of Peter Bourjos, Delmon Young, Ben Francisco and Dom Brown, or watched the Phillies go from 15 games over .500 last July to falling completely apart in September, the first weekend of the 2019 season served as an emotional catharsis; a euphoric trip back to a time when baseball mattered and complete strangers high-fived each other while celebrating a dominant win.

This was a chance to finally exorcise the demons of the last half decade, something the fan base has been ever so desperate to do. When Harper crushed his home run ball into the second deck, his teammates cheered, the Bank erupted, and the rest of baseball was put on notice. This is not going to be your grandfather’s Phillies, that much is certain even after just one series.

dark. Next. Philadelphia Phillies Philes Vol 1.1: Welcome to hittin’ season

It’s only April, and there are 159 more games to be played this baseball season. The Phillies probably possess one of the most talented lineups in all of Major League Baseball, and that’s very exciting. Are they legitimate contenders for a World Series? It’s too early to tell. But regardless of what comes next, Phillies fans can finally rejoice in the fact that they once again have something they’ve not had in quite some time: Hope.