But the John Randle-like look he wore in junior college is currently living on in the Little League World Series out in Williamsport, Pa. As Nationals Enquirer notes, you can tune into almost any youth game and see at least one of the tykes trying to look tough.
Even Harper himself has noticed the mascara-gone-wild trend and said he likes that the young ballplayers — who are not that much younger than his 18-year-old self — are following in his bureau mirror (via MASN Sports): .
"There's a lot of little kids that look up to you," Harper said. "To be able to start a trend like that, it's pretty great. I loved wearing the eye black. It was me. That's what made me Bryce. I didn't wear it for the first couple games, and I struggled. I put it on, and something just happened. It was electric."
Since I'm a crotchety old cuss, I suppose this is the part where I'm supposed to point out that all these young whippersnappers look as ridiculous as Harper did at the College of Southern Nevada and are clearly set out to destroy the sanctity of our national pastime.
But I dunno. I kinda like that they're taking their 12-year-old selves and trying to look all intimidating. Back when I played Pony League, we'd make sure our stirrups were pulled high and that our batting gloves peeked out of our back pockets just so when we were on the basepaths. We'd stuff our mouths full of Big League Chew and smear that eye black on our faces if anyone was lucky enough to have their dad bring it home from Herman's.
And why did we do it? All because we saw guys like Rickey Henderson and Andy Van Slyke and Lenny Dykstra doing it on television. All because we wanted to act older and look tougher than we were.
Will these kids grow up to realize they looked silly and maybe weren't following the best role models?
Probably, but that's really beside the point here. These kids are having fun. The time of their lives, really. And so long as they respect the game and ditch it before high school, I say keep slabbing that eye-black on like Harper used to do.
Well, so long as they know that tears of defeat will make it run.
P.S. — As for Harper, he's moved onto new fashion fronts. He showed up at Nationals Park on Thursday with a new Twilight-looking faux-hawk.