Bryce Harper gets more than NLCS MVP award: ‘Take this, bro, this is your time'


Jose Alvarado had just put up a zero in the top of the eighth inning to keep the Phillies within a run. 

J.T. Realmuto trotted off the field, removed his catcher's gear and grabbed his bat and helmet. He was about to lead off the bottom of the inning with Bryce Harper due up second.

Realmuto headed up the dugout steps to the on-deck circle. The crowd of 45,485 was anxious and hopeful.

Harper began to follow Realmuto up the steps.

But first, he said something that will go down in Phillies lore right with Ryan Howard's "Get me to the plate, boys," plea in the 2009 National League Division Series at Coors Field.

"Let's give them something to remember," Harper said loudly enough for several teammates and members of the coaching staff to hear.

"Do something cool," hitting coach Kevin Long responded.

Up in his box, owner John Middleton looked down at his scoresheet. His team was trailing by a run. He began to think to himself.

Well, these are two guys who can tie this game and win it.

Realmuto led off with a single. He pumped his fist toward the dugout as he sprinted toward first base.

The crowd went nuts as Harper sauntered to the plate.

This is why the Phillies spent $330 million to sign him four years ago. For moments like this.

With the crowd on its feet, Harper worked the count to 2-2. He then got a fastball -- a mere 99 mph -- from reliever Robert Suarez.

The most important swing of Harper's life generated a line drive to left field that came off the bat at 109 mph.

Upstairs, the 67-year-old Middleton channeled Carlton Fisk.

Stay up. Stay up. Go. Go. Go.

And in the dugout?

"Oh, my God," manager Rob Thomson said. "It was unbelievable. It exploded. I thought the roof was going to come off the dugout. I really did."

Let's give them something to remember.

Do something cool.

Harper knew what he'd done as soon as the ball came off his bat. He came out of the batter's box, watched the flight of the ball, then turned his head to his right.

"I just looked at my dugout," he said. "It's for all of them. It's for this whole team. It's for this whole organization. We haven't been here for a long time. It's for every single fan that's here."

The biggest homer of Harper's career and fifth of this postseason rescued the Phillies from that one-run deficit and propelled them to a 4-3 win over the San Diego Padres to clinch the National League Championship Series in five games on Sunday.

Without Harper's heroics, the Phillies would have had to retreat to their clubhouse, pack their bags and immediately fly to San Diego for Monday night's Game 6.

Cancel the flight.

And book a new one to the World Series.

"I said it to K-Long," Harper said later. "Let's give them something to remember. It could have been anybody. I don't care. I just wanted the moment for everybody.

"I was not getting on that flight back. I was not getting on that flight to San Diego. Five and a half hours. No chance."

The home run will go down as one of the biggest in Phillies history, right there with the ones hit by Dick Sisler, Shane Victorino and Matt Stairs.

No one seemed all that surprised that Harper came through with his iconic moment as a Phillie.

"That's him, right?" Zack Wheeler said. "He's a showman. That's what they pay him to do."

"The superstar came and he played and that's why he's the MVP," Thomson said. "Incredible. A lot of times you don't see that. The stars just don't hit. But he hit.

"He's physically and mentally tough and he wants to win. When the moment hits, he doesn't get caught up in it. He just goes out and does his job.

"I saw it a lot in my years with (Derek) Jeter doing the same thing. Their heart doesn't speed up as much as the guy who's throwing to them. They're even-keeled. They stay in the zone."

In 11 games this postseason, Harper is hitting .419 with 11 extra-base hits and 11 RBIs. His OPS is 1.351.

Long knew something special was coming from Harper a couple of weeks ago. He saw the stroke and the timing coming. It took Harper a little time to get it all the way back after missing two months with a broken thumb.

Before Sunday's game, Long knew Harper was ready to, well, do something cool.

"I throw to him every day," Long said. "I knew today would be a good day. You could see it. He was locked (bleeping) in."

After the game, Middleton was able to speak with Harper moments before the on-field championship trophy presentation. Middleton dreamed of moments like this when he invested in Harper. 

"I told him, 'It's perfect that it was you who hit that home run,'" Middleton said. "It's like a fairy tale. It was fantastic.

"Then I also told him that he might be underpaid."

This clearly was the biggest hit of Harper's life. It punched his ticket to his first World Series, the thing that's been missing from his resume.

Still, he would not admit that it was the biggest hit of his life. As a kid, he often dreamed of hitting game-winning home runs, but not in the league championship series.

"You dream about those moments in the backyard, but it's always in the World Series," he said. "It's always the World Series. So it's on to that next step. That's how I feel."

Thanks to Harper, Middleton is four wins away from getting his (bleeping) trophy back. And to think, it has happened with a team that squeaked into the NL playoffs with the sixth and final seed, a spot that didn't even exist a year ago.


Harper will be the first to tell you it has been a team effort, this thing they call Red October that has so far produced nine wins and just two losses.

"Bryce cares for his teammates," Long said. "If you put your team in front of yourself, then you're always going to succeed and that's what he's doing."

Harper's teammates also care for him.

One of those guys is Nick Castellanos. He caught the last out of the victory that propelled the Phillies to the World Series.

"Catching that last out is something I'll never, ever forget," he said. "Just seeing the reaction of my teammates and the fans and the stadium."

That ball would look good in Castellanos' trophy case back home.

But it's not going there.

Castellanos gave the ball to Harper, telling him, "Take this, bro. This is your time."

Subscribe to Phillies Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube

Contact Us