SPORTS

Bryce Harper makes his home debut in Washington

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Over half a decade after scouts first took notice of him, and nearly two years after being drafted, 19-year old phenom Bryce Harper finally made his home debut for the Washington Nationals Tuesday night.

Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper points to the crowd as he takes his position at the start of the Nationals' baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park in D.C. Tuesday. (Photo: Associated Press)

Harper came to Nationals Park after an impressive two-game stretch in Los Angeles, during which he went 2-6 and had some nice plays in center field.

Harper’s home debut is not what he would have wanted. He went 0-3 with a strikeout, and the team lost 5-1. But fans who came out weren’t too concerned about one night; instead, they’re excited about Harper’s potential for the future.

Many fans, not wanting to miss the chance to say they were there for the teenager's first home game in the majors, showed up in Harper jerseys.

Harper was called up last week from the Nationals’ AAA farm team in Syracuse, New York. The decision to send him to the big leagues came after Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

"As soon as we got the news that he was getting called up, we got our tickets online pretty quick," Seth Lennon of Alexandria, wearing a jersey emblazoned with the number 34, told ABC7. Lennon came to Tuesday night’s game with his wife.

"I think it's a great event to be at — something you can say you were at if he turns into Mickey Mantle,” added Nats fan Paul Altman of Prince Frederick, Md.

Harper, who made the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was just 16, has seen more hype than just about any prospect in baseball history. Scouts say he’s the complete package, featuring power, speed, and a gun of an arm.

A small group of fans watching batting practice before Tuesday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks got a taste of why Harper’s so highly touted.

He sent a number of balls into the seats, including one line drive that made it to the upper deck.

Harper is a legend for a home run he hit over 500 feet when he was just 16.

The Nationals are having a good season so far, but the pitching has been far better than the hitting. Fans hope Harper will be the missing piece the team needs to get going on the offense.

"I think he's going to add a lot of scoring,” said Randi Altman of Prince Frederick, who was celebrating her birthday at the game.

"With Bryce, I think we're going to get on our way, and maybe make it to the playoffs," added Karen Evans of Vienna, Va., who was also celebrating her birthday.

The Nationals have never had a winning season in Washington, but came closest in their first season in 2005, when they went 81-81. Before that, they were still playing in Canada as the Montreal Expos.

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