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Wednesday wasn’t just the last home game of the season for the Washington Nationals.
It was possibly the last home game at Nationals Park for outfielder Bryce Harper. Harper was drafted by the Nationals in 2010 and will be one of the biggest free agents this year.
Multiple teams have already been linked to Harper – the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Atlanta Braces among them – even though he said in an interview that he would love to resign with the Nationals.
Still, if Wednesday was his swan song , Harper made sure to enjoy himself.
He was in his red and white uniform almost 4 hours ahead of the game and reaffirmed his love for the city.
“This is my home. This is my city. Of course I root for the Golden Knights, and I root for Duke and I root for the Cowboys and things like that, but I’m a Washington National. At the end of the day, I love this city.” Harper said.
Bryce Harper: "I wanted to be here, put the uni on right away and just cherish that moment if it’s going to be the last time or not." pic.twitter.com/V2WSeBUeeq
— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) September 26, 2018
On Thursday morning, Harper posted nine photos to Instagram, each with the same caption: “To the fans and the city of DC, thank you!” Each photo contains a different piece of a single image. When you look at all nine photos together on Harper’s Instagram profile page, this is what they look like.
Nationals fans celebrate
Harper wasn’t the only one enjoying the moment though.
Despite the rain, fans were there to cheer for their team and their star. There was the sign that begged for an eight-year contract extension for Harper – even though he said he’d prefer a slightly longer one.
There’s a sign across the street from Nats Park that says “8 more years for 34."
Bryce Harper’s reaction? “I think eight years is a little short”
— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) September 27, 2018
Then he bowed when he came onto the field. The crowd reciprocated with a standing ovation for their outfielder for his first at bat.
Here's Bryce Harper taking a bow for the Nationals Park crowd in what may be his last home game as a Washington National. pic.twitter.com/kyxvj5dm9Z
— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) September 26, 2018
Unfortunately he went 0-4 at the plate, but that didn’t stop fans from trying to convince him to stay. young boy made a case for Harper to stay in D.C. saying that baseball there just wasn’t the same without him and that the city and team needed everything he brings – from his spirit to his power to his bat.
— NBC Sports Nationals (@NBCSNationals) September 26, 2018
If reasoning doesn’t work, they tried to beg, shouting “Stay, Bryce, Stay!” when he came to say farewell.
Victor Robles steals Harper’s thunder
It was Harper’s night to celebrate, but Victor Robles, the 21 year-old outfielder, stole some of the headlines.
Unlike Harper who went 0-4, Robles went 4-for-4 with a double, a three-run home-run and 5 RBI in the first five innings.
Robles, who is tabbed as Harper’s replacement and a key player in the Nationals’ future, finished the game 4-for-5. He’s the second Nationals’ player this season to have that kind of night along with teammate Juan Soto.
Most recent players age 21y, 130d or younger to have a game with at least 1 HR, 4 hits, 5 RBI:
-Victor Robles, today
– Juan Soto, June 29
– Adrian Beltre, 7/27/00
– Ron Santo, 6/28/61
So it happened once in 56 seasons and now twice in three months by TEAMMATES.
— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) September 26, 2018
The pair had six of the twelve hits on Wednesday in 9-3 win over the Marlins – a good sign for the Nationals that even if Harper, their celebrated All-Star, will be playing for another team next season, there’s some more stars in the making.
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