Bryce Harper is a very intense baseball player. But it’s not like he suddenly became Mr. Intense when he got to the majors. He has always been that way. And Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers has a story to prove it.
Harper and Gallo both grew up in Las Vegas, and frequently played together on the same team. In an interview on Sunday, Gallo told ESPN Radio’s Jon Sciambi about the day he quit being a catcher for good — and it was all Bryce Harper’s fault.
It happened when they were 8 or nine 9 old. In those days, Harper wasn’t just a hitter and a catcher himself, but he also pitched. And here’s some shocking news: even as a kid, Harper threw hard. (OK, that’s not actually shocking.) He threw so hard that Gallo was the only kid on the team who could handle catching him.
But what could make Harper throw even harder? Frustration. Here’s what started it, via SportsDay.
“There was one game we were playing in Vegas, and he just struck out to end the inning and I could see he was pretty upset. So, I’m like, ‘Oh, OK. Here we go.’ You know? And I didn’t really know what I was doing behind there. I was just able, had the ability to catch a guy throwing hard.”
How did young Bryce Harper handle the anger he had from striking out? He threw the ball as hard as he could in the general direction of the catcher.
“I think first pitch is wild, next pitch comes in – he’s not even looking when he’s throwing. His head’s snapping the other way. [Throws the next pitch] right in the dirt, and I try to just scoop it – no idea what I’m actually doing trying to block. Hits me in the ribs. Take my helmet off, I’m crying, coming out of the game, coach comes up to me, takes me out to the stands and my mom gets me some ice cream. His mom’s sitting there feeling bad. And after that I obviously never caught again.”
Bryce Harper hit Joey Gallo in the ribs with a pitch and made him cry! After that, Gallo says his parents put their collective foot down about catching and had him move to a different position. Presumably they just wanted to find him a place on the diamond where his job wouldn’t be to have high-speed baseballs thrown at him all the time.
That plunk in the ribs probably hurt, but at least Gallo got ice cream out of it. And now, Gallo is in his fourth year in the majors, he hit 41 home runs in 2017, and is tied for third in home runs this year with six. It all worked out in the end.
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