I mentioned Al Kaline to 19-year-old Bryce Harper. His reaction: “He won a batting title at age 20. Who doesn’t know that?”
— DKnobler (@DKnobler) February 28, 2012
To hear some folks tell it, Bryce Harper is the devil. A swaggering superego coated in eye black, the manchild who fast tracked his way to millions by skipping over considerable portions of the high school and college experience. A boy with a chance to make a Major League club at the age of 20 who still has a lot of growing up to do.
While all those things are inevitably true, it seems Bryce Harper knows a thing or two about baseball history, too! Which is surprising enough in its own right, I suppose.
Bryce Harper is frequently mocked on the internet for his, um, disparate rooting interests. Harper, a native of Las Vegas, lists the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers, and Duke Blue Devils among his favorite sports teams. “DOESN’T HE KNOW ANYTHING? YOU JUST CAN’T DO THAT!” cry middle-aged men who form snap judgments of strangers based solely on their choice of baseball hat.
Either way, Harper doesn’t profile as a baseball historian. High-level athletes generally have better things to do than pour over dusty Bill James abstracts or the generic “baseball history” tomes dotting the dusty public libraries of the world.
Whether this betrays a thirst for baseball knowledge or the bucket list of a hyper achiever(age 20: win batting title like Al Kaline, hit more home runs than Alex Rodriguez by age 25), we can’t be sure.
Parsing The Knobler’s tweet even more, Harper even answers questions with swagger and cockiness. “Who doesn’t know that?” is a pretty great way to end any and all conversations in which you were previously engaged. MY NAME IS HARPER AND I HAS SPOKE.
It is going to be a lot of fun watching Harper grow up before the baseball world’s eyes. Assuming that ever happens, mind you. There are plenty of other full-grown children patrolling the outfields of the Major Leagues, they simply operate without the same level of scrutiny.