2012: A Chiefs Odyssey – Kevin’s #4

4. Bryce Chopper

Had to happen at some point, right?  Though Mr. Harper’s first Triple-A home run shows up one spot higher on my list than it did on yours, JB, we’re back-to-back with the same event.  And you’ve just heard the call of it – so perhaps there’s not much more to say.  It was a 3-1 pitch from Jheurys Familia drilled over the right-field fence – I remember the shot like it was yesterday.  Did I exaggerate the call somewhat?  Yes.  Is it the most majestic home run I’ll ever see?  No.  But – considering it was Harper’s only Triple-A home run – the swing was unquestionably unforgettable.

No one thought it would be his last Triple-A home run of the year, of course, after seeing the colossal blasts that Harper delivered over the fence in batting practice day after day.  But after just four more games with Syracuse and sporting a not-otherworldly .243 average, the Nationals snatched up Harper when injured third baseman Ryan Zimmerman went on the Disabled List.  The rest, of course, is history – a double in his debut at Los Angeles, an All-Star selection, a National League Rookie of the Year award and a key part in the Nationals’ NL East championship.  All before he turned 20 years old.

It seems somewhat silly to remember so many seemingly minute details, but I remember driving home from the ballpark on April 27 after the Chiefs’ game against Charlotte was postponed due to cold weather.  I remember Harper’s name out of the starting lineup on the lineup card, with Tony Beasley saying he was giving his young outfielder the day off.  I remember finding out once I was home that Harper was called up to the Nationals, and calling Jason, who was still at the ballpark.

Sure, they all seem like insignificant details – but we seemed to know that once Bryce was gone, he wasn’t coming back.  And last year was just the beginning of a long and prosperous career.  I’m glad to witness at least a few weeks of it firsthand.

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