WASHINGTON – When Bryce Harper’s mother found out the rookie outfielder for the Nationals had made the All-Star team, she cried a little bit.
“Moms get a little too over-excited sometimes,” he jokes. “But it’s a great moment for (my family).”
Harper, who is only 19, spoke with WTOP Monday, two days after he was told he was replacing Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton in the MLB All-Star game.
Harper, who is hitting .282 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 63 games since being called up April 28, is the youngest position player in All-Star history, and the third-youngest ever behind Bob Feller in 1938 and Dwight Gooden in 1984.
Nationals Manager Davey Johnson and General Manager Mike Rizzo broke the news to Harper after Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rockies.
“I was kind of shocked for a minute,” Harper says. “No words can explain the moment.”
“It’s just an exciting time for everyone in the clubhouse.”
Harper was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft.
Harper skipped his final year of high school, earned his GED, then played one season of junior college baseball at the College of Southern Nevada to become eligible for the draft to get a head-start on his professional career.
He signed a five-year, $9.9 million contract, including a $6.5 million signing bonus, with the Nationals in August 2010.
Harper says it’s a blessing to have been named an All-Star in his first season.
“Being able to come out here and be with the best guys in all of baseball and just having some fun and really trying to take it in for the first time, and just trying to enjoy everything around me,” he says.
While he was looking forward to the four-day mental break he would have gotten from not playing in the All-Star game, Harper says he feels good physically.
He’s also glad to have the company of a few of his fellow Nationals. Pitchers Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and shortstop Ian Desmond are also on the National League roster.
“With Stras and Gio out here, it’s very cool for the town of D.C. and the Nationals fans. It’s just a great moment for everybody,” Harper says.
Harper says it’s the Nationals’ great mix of veteran players and young talent, along with Johnson, that combine to make a winning team.
“This season has been unbelievable. It’s been a great first half for eveybody,” he says. “Eveybody is really excited for the second half to get going.”
“Hopefully, we can get into the playfoffs an bring home a ring to the city of D.C. We owe that to the fans.”
WTOP’s Meera Pal and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.