A fan who was among the first to inform manager Gabe Kapler that Bryce Harper was signing with the Philadelphia Phillies, was among the 157 killed when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed in Addis Ababa on March 10.
Matt Vecere, 43, was one of eight Americans killed in the crash. He was on the final leg of a journey that began in Los Angeles and was to take him to Kenya for the United Nations Environment Assembly, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
In an emotional message posted on Twitter, Kapler revealed that Vecere was one of the vocal fans seated directly behind Philadelphia’s dugout at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Fla. on the afternoon Bryce Harper and the Phillies agreed to their record 13-year, $330 million contract.
The story of how Kapler learned of Harper’s signing made national news because of the unusual circumstances.
Kapler and the Phillies were in the middle of a Grapefruit League game against the Baltimore Orioles when news of Harper’s agreement reached social media. Kapler didn’t have access to the information inside the dugout, but the phones of fans packed into the stands were lighting up with every detail of the deal.
It was those fans, including Vecere, who broke the franchise-changing news to Kapler and many Phillies players as they ran off the field.
Asked how he found out about Harper-to-#Phillies, Kapler said fans seated behind the dugout were waving their phones and reading their Twitter feeds out loud.
— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) February 28, 2019
It was a sign-of-the-times story in that the fans had all of the information at their fingertips before the Phillies coaches or players had an any inkling a deal was done.
Clearly, Vecere was among the most excited to share the news. As Kapler mentioned, the New Jersey native even shouted out instructions on where Harper should bat in Philadelphia’s lineup. So far, Kapler has listened, batting Harper third in each of his four spring training appearances.
An investigation surrounding the crash of Flight 302 is expected to take several months. In the meantime, many airlines have since grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft involved in the crash, citing safety concerns. It’s reported that 350 planes are in service worldwide.
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