Home Sports Bryce Harper’s take on how to grow baseball internationally

Bryce Harper’s take on how to grow baseball internationally

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Bryce Harper's take on how to grow baseball internationally

Bryce Harper’s take on growing baseball internationally originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

LONDON – Bryce Harper wears many hats. Husband, father, superstar athlete, franchise icon, one of the faces of Under Armor and Gatorade.

On Friday afternoon at London Stadium, a day before his Phillies opened a two-game series against the rival Mets, he wore another one, almost serving as an ambassador not only for Major League Baseball but for the sport of baseball itself. .

Remember, these people are not very familiar with baseball. The Yankees played the Red Sox in 2019 and the Cubs faced the Cardinals last year, but those were the only two major league series to take place in the United Kingdom.

At his news conference on Friday, British reporters asked Harper several times to explain why he finds baseball so exciting, how the game can be developed and what initially attracted him as a child.

“I grew up playing football, baseball, basketball and other sports as well,” he said. “I love grass, I love leather, I love dirt. I love the wood bat, man. I remember the first time I used metal cleats and it was like click, click, click, click. A As you get older, you use the castings and then you get into metals and it’s like, ‘Oh wow, this is cool, I’m like an older guy.’

“Just the whole thing. The MLB tradition as well. It’s been around for a long time. The game has changed a lot. Obviously, you still have your traditionalists. But I think as the game has gotten younger, the players They’ve gotten younger, people have distanced themselves a little from those players. The excitement has helped, but you have to understand that this is also a traditional game, so you have to limit both sides because you don’t want to lose a fan or lose the other, you want to pull them and have everyone together.

In terms of growing the game, Harper’s overall message was that it is achieved by hosting events like the London Series, showcasing the sport in different countries. There could be 100 kids who watch Harper or Ranger Suarez or JT Realmuto this weekend and become lifelong baseball fans. It could be 1,000. It could be 10,000. That type of conversion is difficult to measure and impossible to exaggerate.

“We have some really good players in our game from all over the world,” Harper said. “It’s a great game to see it come here and come to Mexico. I think as we get to the UK, I imagine we’ll probably go to a lot of other places like the NFL has. I think that’s going to help put our game in front of to the fans.

“But the fans will also have to want to see us play. Other countries like different sports. No matter how much you shove it in their face, the Premier League will still be bigger. There are certain things that are bigger than Baseball Obviously, the NFL It also has a good fan base here. I think a lot of fans know basketball because basketball is also in Europe.

“As the game grows and advances, the more we get into the different cultures of the world, I think it will grow a little bit more.”

And then there are the Olympic Games, which Harper has always been passionate about. Baseball returns to 2028 summer games in Los Angeles. Harper desperately wants major league players to participate and he has already expressed his desire to participate.

He doesn’t just want it for himself, he wants it for the sport as a whole.

“The most important thing (to grow the game) is the Olympics,” he said. “There’s nothing more global than the Olympics. I watch the most random sports during the Olympics because it’s the Olympics. So not having baseball in the Olympics is really tough. If you send those players there and take that break I think that’s the big one. I love hockey, it’s one of my favorite sports and watching it at the Olympics is one of the coolest things ever. They take that three-week break and let those guys. go play. we should have like Major League Baseball.

“I’ve talked to numerous MLB people about this. I would love to be a part of this. Obviously, we have the World Baseball Classic, but it’s not the same. It’s not. People can say whatever they want. They just don’t. It’s. The Olympics are so global. The WBC is great, it brings a lot of people together and that’s really great, but the Olympics are something you dream of playing in. So if I have the opportunity to wear the colors again. my nation. To represent that on my chest again like when I was 18 and 16, I would absolutely love it.”

He’ll be 35 by then, in year 10 of the 13-year contract he signed with the Phillies before 2019. Harper is obsessed with winning the World Series, and almost savoring that triumph in 2022 and 2023 has only added to that sense of urgency. .

“Once I signed, John (Middleton), knowing his mentality, what he wanted to happen, it was amazing to know what kind of track he wanted this to be on and I think we’ve delivered on that, we’ve achieved that.” a little bit,” he said. “Obviously, our main goal is to win the World Series and that’s what we strive for every day. We’re off to a great start this year, but we played a full season and a lot can happen. “We just have to keep moving forward, keep doing our thing, keep understanding that we can be better in all facets of the game and get better every day.”

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