How can you not love Bryce Harper?
For the second time this week, the Philadelphia star gave a Phillies fan the memory of a lifetime. On Thursday, he traded his cap with a fan in the crowd. On Saturday, he visited with a 14-year-old fan with a heart condition during batting practice – as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Alex Coffey.
The fan – Mason Strickland – traveled 2,000 from Utah to Philadelphia with his parents to see his favorite player in person. Strickland was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which forced him to have a transplant when he was only two years old. He had a stroke when he was 10 years old that left him unable to walk.
Before his stroke, Strickland played youth baseball and chose right field because that is what Harper played. Now forced to a wheelchair, Strickland is a massive MLB fan and watches every game he can that Harper is playing.
‘It Means a Lot … He Gets It”
During batting practice on Saturday, Harper came out of the clubhouse with arms full of gear for Strickland. Batting gloves, an arm sleeve, a wrist guard, a bat, cleats – the whole shebang. They chatted for a few minutes and posed for pictures before Harper left for his pregame preparation. Strickland and his family stayed on the field for a while to take it all in.
Mason’s dad, Mark, commented on how much of an impact it truly had: “These guys get approached all of the time, and we just appreciate him being so kind. It means a lot. You never think you’re going to be in this circumstance, and Bryce has little kids. He gets it. This is what a lot of people don’t get to see about these guys: that they’re dads, too.”
Meanwhile, Mason was understandably at a loss for words: “Awesome,” he called the experience.