Since his major league debut with the Washington Nationals this past April at the young age of 19, Bryce Harper has certainly made himself known in the baseball world on and off the field. While he fell short of making the All-Star team this year, the right fielder’s talent is showcased in his plays in the field and his power at the plate.
But as he climbed the ranks of professional baseball, he attracted attention for his immaturity after a few instances in which he showed a lack of sportsmanship. While playing for Single-A Hagerstown in 2011, Harper blasted a home run, which he blatantly admired as he slowly ran to first base. He then took his arrogant display a step further and blew the pitcher a kiss on his way from third to home.
In an ugly instance after a more recent game in which he did not do well at the plate, Harper released his anger by throwing his bat against the wall in the dugout tunnel. The bat bounced back and struck him in the eye, causing a laceration that required 10 stitches. But despite this childish behavior that Harper has shown, his recent charitable act following a “clown question” from a reporter shows true maturity and understanding of how to use his place in the spotlight.
It all began in the locker room in Toronto after a Nationals-Blue Jays game in June when a reporter asked Harper if he would be enjoying a celebratory beer after the game since the legal drinking age in Canada is 18. Harper, visibly irritated by this reporter’s nonsense, figured that he was to young to even legally answer that question without some sort of media backlash. So he did what any mature person in that situation would do and dismissed the reporter, saying, “That’s a clown question, bro.”
This response quickly caught on as a catchphrase that companies quickly emblazoned on their merchandise. It became so popular that Harper trademarked it as his slogan. When the Denver Beer Company in Colorado created a Clown Question Bro brew, Harper wanted in on profits and contacted the company about splitting the earnings. But when Harper learned of Denver policewoman and single mother, Celena Hollis, who was recently killed in line of duty leaving a 12-year-old daughter behind, he made the classy decision to use some of the proceeds from the beer to start a memorial fund for Officer Hollis’ daughter.
In doing this, Harper showed that he may be moving beyond his immature days and has realized that his fortunate position as a professional athlete gives him the opportunity to do something good for others. While his young age may account for his antics, it also makes this act of selflessness even more impressive. Here’s hoping that Harper will continue to display his maturity and spread goodwill as his (no doubt successful) career continues. He also gets maturity points for realizing the difference between a legitimate journalistic question and a clown question.