It’s well known that Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper grew up a New York Yankees fan. He idolized players like Derek Jeter and Paul O’Neill, not only wanting to emulate their play on the field, but how they conducted themselves off it.
Now Harper is one of the MLB players the next generation looks up. The 2015 National League MVP and three-time all-star continued to set an example as a role model today by donating Under Armour equipment to members of North Camden Little League, which was robbed in June.
“Growing up that’s what it was all about, looking up to the heroes I did, the guys I loved to watch play,” Harper, 26, said. “To be able to do that and be that guy now for these kids means the world.
“Being able to start that process of giving back to them and being able to put a new pair of cleats on their feet, new batting gloves on their hands, and being there today was a lot of fun. That’s what it’s all about.”
The 12 little league players were given the new Under Armour Harper 4 cleats, a signed baseball and other UA equipment while at Dick’s Sporting Goods. The players will attend batting practice tonight and watch the Phillies host the Chicago Cubs from a suite at Citizens Bank Park.
In mid-June, approximately $15,000 worth of equipment—including refrigerators, coolers and a deep fryer—and food was stolen from the league’s concession stand at Pyne Poynt Park in Camden, New Jersey. The league relied on the approximately $5,000 in concession sales in order to keep registration fees for its 650 participants at just $25.
North Camden Little League founder Bryan Morton began a fundraising campaign, hoping to raise $20,000 by August. An anonymous donor promised to pledge $15,000 for the cause as the organization was able to replace the stolen equipment and began selling concessions by mid-July.
Under Armour and Dick’s Sporting Goods donated $10,000 to the cause as well.
“I can’t believe that somebody would actually do something like (rob a little league),” Harper said. “To be able to help them out a little bit I think that’s going to go a long way.”
Just as North Camden Little League has been able to get up and running, Harper hopes the Phillies can hit their stride as the season winds down. Heading into Tuesday’s game against the Cubs, Philadelphia (60-58) sat nine games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East standings and two games back in the NL wild card.
On Tuesday, the organization announced former World Series-winning manager Charlie Manuel replaced John Mallee as hitting coach.
Harper, who is batting .250 with 22 home runs, 80 RBI and 137 strikeouts in his first season with the club after signing a 13-year, $330 million contract, is looking forward to making a run down the stretch.
“The wild card is great for baseball,” he said. “Being able to get into that game of course is going to be difficult but as a club we are up to the task and looking forward to the next month and a half. We play a lot of the teams in front of us so we have a chance to gain some ground. I can’t wait for the next month and a half.”