When Bryce Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million free agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of March, it was perhaps clear that at some point, he would be booed by the hometown crowd.
Per The Inquisitr, it was claimed that Harper was in fact booed at his first home game in a Philadelphia uniform, although those jeers are generally understood to have only come from a small handful of spectators.
But now, with the right fielder in something of a slump, the boos have come out for real.
Per NBC Sports Philly, Harper was unmistakably booed Tuesday night after he struck out in the eighth inning of the team’s 3-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers. The Phillies, as a team, had only four hits in the game, per ESPN, and Harper went 0-for-4 to lower his batting average to 0.240. Harper also made an error in the field, also in the eighth inning.
The player has struggled of late, with the exception of a five-hit game against the Colorado Rockies on April 19.
Harper did not criticize the fans for booing him and said postgame that he probably would have done the same thing.
“It’s not fun to lose, not fun to watch when you’re playing that way,” Harper said, per NBC Sports Philly. “(I was) 0 for 4 with two punchies. I’m probably thinking the same thing walking back to the dugout.”
The Phillies now have a record of 16-13 and are in first place in the NL East as May begins.
Bryce Harper is on pace for 33 homers and 112 RBIs, but he heard it from #Phillies fans following a rough night last night and a rough stretch recently. “I’d do the same thing,” he said. He discussed why he’s been struggling. https://t.co/MuePQKafu8— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) May 1, 2019
Harper, who previously played for the Washington Nationals, signed a 13-year deal with Philadelphia this spring following a closely-watched free agency pursuit that involved several teams. The $330 million deal was the largest in the history of team sports at the time that he signed it, but that total was overtaken a few weeks later by the $430 million deal agreed to by Mike Trout with the Los Angeles Angels.
The sheer length of Harper’s contract made it fairly clear at the outset that the relationship between Philadelphia fans and Bryce Harper is going to wax and wane a great deal over the course of 13 years. If he’s much loved in year three, a hated figure in year six, and redeemed in year nine, no one will be especially surprised. But even if one doesn’t take into account the stereotypes about behavior of Philadelphia fans, it was perhaps inevitable that Harper would be booed at some point.