Bryce Harper may have made it to the final round of the 2013 Home Run Derby, but his family members were the real stars of Monday night’s competition. His brother, Bryan Harper, and his father, Ryan Harper, each played prominent roles in the Washington Nationals star’s performance.
Harper, a 20-year-old phenom, made his first Home Run Derby appearance last night -- and didn’t disappoint. Sporting a heavily-gelled Mohawk haircut, the first-time All-Star belted 16 home run in the Derby’s first two rounds, earning a spot in the finals. Still, the cameras at Citi Field couldn’t seem to get enough of his family members.
Bryan Harper, Bryce’s older brother and a pitcher in the Nationals’ minor league system, was close at hand throughout his sibling’s power display. In addition to his prominently displayed “hat cam,” Bryan’s Rollie Fingers-inspired mustache was the talk of the stadium. In fact, USA Today’s For The Win blog referred to Bryan’s handlebar as “the best mustache in Citi Field and quite possibly in all of New York.”
Ron Harper, Bryce’s father, also played a major role in his son’s 2013 Home Run Derby appearance. The elder Harper served as the 20-year-old’s batting practice pitcher, serving up the baseballs that Bryce would subsequently hammer over the walls of Citi Field. However, Ron wasn’t content to merely throw the pitches over the plate.
For The Win noted that Harper threw “cutter” fastballs to his son, a type of pitch that is known to “break” across the strike zone. “For some reason, because I’ve always been throwing on the outer half, it cuts now,” Ron told the Washington Post. “I used to throw a straight four-seam fastball.”
Ultimately, not even Bryan’s mustache and Ron’s pitching could lead Bryce to a Home Run Derby victory. The young slugger managed to hit eight home runs in the tournament’s final round, just shy of the nine homers of Oakland A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, the eventual champion.
Bryce, Bryan, and Ron aren’t the only members of the Harper family. Bryce’s mother is named Sheri, and his sister, Britt Harper-Peterson, maintains a significant following on Twitter. Meanwhile, Bryce is frequently pictured with his girlfriend, Kayla Varner, who plays soccer at Brigham Young University.