Nine days after he signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, Bryce Harper finally saw his first game action in a Phillies uniform in Saturday’s spring training game in which the Phillies hosted the Toronto Blue Jays in Clearwater.
In the game, Harper came to bat twice, walking both times, and was lifted from the game for a pinch-runner in the third inning. The Phillies lost the game to the Blue Jays, 8-7, per ESPN. Harper did score a run, as first baseman Rhys Hoskins hit a home run immediately after Harper’s first walk.
Harper’s first appearance with the Phillies was notable for a couple of reasons. First, the Blue Jays used an unorthodox defensive formation, putting four defenders in the outfield. And secondly, Harper came to bat to the theme song of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The theme song was written and performed by that show’s star, Will Smith, a Philadelphia native.
According to MLB.com reporter Todd Zolecki on Twitter, Harper said that he thought the song “would be fun as his walk-up song in spring training,” but that he’ll be using a different song when he comes to bat once the regular season starts. Harper’s debut drew a sell-out crowd to Spectrum Field, which rose for a standing ovation for Harper’s first time at bat.
While some players use a signature song that they use all the time, Harper has used a variety of walk-up music throughout his career. According to a Washington Post article in 2017, that season Harper always used Moby’s “Flower” his first time at bat in each game, Kendrick Lamar’s “Fearless” for his second at bat, and Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road” for his third.
— MLB (@MLB) March 9, 2019
Some fans pointed out that the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song is, in fact, a song about someone leaving Philadelphia, as opposed to arriving there, and that Harper was reportedly close to signing to play in Los Angeles, which is near the Fresh Prince’s new home in Bel Air.
“The ovation they gave me, I’m very humbled, very blessed to be able to get out there and play in front of a fan base like that,” Harper said postgame, per CBS 3.
Harper’s signing with the Phillies, which followed a tense, four-month free agency period, has been strongly embraced by Phillies fans, who have purchased the outfielder’s number 3 jersey in record numbers in the last week.