Harper: Nationals fans crossed the line heckling

Sports
Bryce Harper

Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper gestures to spectators in the stands during the eighth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Philadelphia Phillies slugger Bryce Harper called out some Washington Nationals fans, saying they crossed the line heckling him in the eighth inning.

The former Nationals star didn’t get specific or repeat what the hecklers were saying, but he wasn’t happy following a 5-2 loss Wednesday night, the team’s fifth straight setback.

“They were fine all game, talking about myself and things like that,” Harper said. “I get it everywhere I go. That’s nothing new. But the last two innings, it’s just not right. It’s not right.”

He said he was eager to get back to Philadelphia and the great fans there.

“I’ve got 60,000 fans up in Philly that appreciate me as a player, appreciate me as an individual and my family, as well,” Harper said. “I owe a lot to those people up there in Philly because they show up for me every single night and they’re there to cheer us on and boo us and keep us going as a team and as individuals as well.

Harper left Washington after playing 927 games over seven years, participating in six All-Star Games and winning the 2015 NL MVP Award. He’s been a target of boos since signing a $330 million, 13-year contract with the rival Phillies.

Washington has already clinched an NL playoff spot.

In the teams’ first matchup in April, the boos by Nationals fans started when Harper’s name was announced in the lineup, and derisive shouting followed during a video montage of his biggest moments with the Nationals. Harper was then booed at every at-bat, and when he took his position in right field, several fans were wearing white shirts that spelled out T-R-A-I-T-O-R.

He got a bit of retribution with a 458-foot homer that he punctuated with a bat flip.

Harper acknowledged he heard the boos in April, saying: “For me, that’s part of sports, part of the game.”

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