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Harper wins Derby in front of hometown fans

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper walked up the first-base line, carrying his bat in both his hands and then tossing it into the air as his furious rally to win the T-Mobile Home Run Derby was complete on Monday night.

Harper swatted nine home runs in the last 50 seconds of the finals, including one at the horn, to tie Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs at 18, before launching the final home run in bonus time to send Nationals Park into a frenzy.

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper walked up the first-base line, carrying his bat in both his hands and then tossing it into the air as his furious rally to win the T-Mobile Home Run Derby was complete on Monday night.

Harper swatted nine home runs in the last 50 seconds of the finals, including one at the horn, to tie Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs at 18, before launching the final home run in bonus time to send Nationals Park into a frenzy.

It was a historic Derby: The eight participants combined for 221 dingers -- the most in T-Mobile Home Run Derby history. Schwarber finished with 55 overall while Harper finished with 45.

:: Complete Home Run Derby coverage ::

Harper gave the 43,698 fans that packed into the ballpark the show they had so eagerly anticipated. They roared when he was introduced before the start of the Derby. Then again as he stepped to the plate and pointed to the D.C. flag bandanna around his head. As he started crushing the ball into the stands, Nationals Park became electric.

Video: Harper, father on winning Derby in front of home fans

"That's the kid you see out there tonight," Harper said as he got emotional at the podium after the event. "I was fortunate to share that and show that to the fans. That wasn't only for me and my family and everybody like that, but this is for the cook, the guy who that works the front and the people that work upstairs.

Video: HRD Rd3: Harper hits 9 HRs in final minute to tie it

"I mean, this is [for] the whole city of D.C. I was very fortunate to be able to bring this back to them and do it here."

Bryce shows off amazing Home Run Derby style

With his father, Ron, pitching to him, Harper became just the third player to win the Home Run Derby in his home ballpark. He joined Todd Frazier for the Reds in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg of the Cubs in 1990, and Harper did so in front of a crowd he repeatedly called "incredible."

Video: HRD Rd3: Harper on winning HRD in front of home fans

It has been a while since Nationals fans have rallied behind Harper this passionately, and he received such mutual admiration and emotion from both sides. As the 89th All-Star Game arrives in D.C. with Harper at the center of it all, the conversation surrounding him usually begins at a first half not quite up to his usual standards followed by talks about his impending free agency this winter.

Tweet from @Nationals: How can you not be romantic about baseball? pic.twitter.com/oyWZJlyIY6

• Round-by-round recap of HR Derby

It also coincided with a more serious demeanor from Harper around the clubhouse and on the field, but it was evident how much fun Harper was having on Monday night as he created one of the most memorable moments in Nationals Park history.

Video: HRD Rd1: Harper downs Freeman in Round 1 with 13th HR

"It's unbelievable," Harper said. "I think just having the crowd out there and really feeding off them. We have some of the best fans in all of baseball, and to be able to do that with my family out there, that's an incredible moment, not only for me but for the organization and the Nationals fans. I'm very blessed and humbled."

• Harper forgot he won a Home Run Derby as an 11-year-old

Harper dispatched Freddie Freeman of the rival Braves and Max Muncy of the Dodgers in the first two rounds, each by the score of 13-12, before squaring off against Schwarber in the final round. Schwarber launched 18 home runs in the final round and Harper faced an uphill battle when he got off to a slow start, with just four homers at his first timeout with 2:38 left on the clock. Then, after a second timeout, Harper found a groove with his father.

Video: HRD Rd2: Harper belts 13 homers to advance to finals

"He flipped a switch," Nats left-hander Sean Doolittle said. "His swing, you could tell he was getting tired. He went somewhere else. That was unbelievable."

That ability to go "somewhere else" is what separates Harper and why despite his struggles in the first half he is still widely considered one of the top players in MLB. He belted 45 homers overall, including the second, third and fourth longest homers on the night. Fifteen of those home runs went at least 440 feet and 12 left his bat with an exit velocity of at least 110 mph, the most in the Derby.

Video: HRD Rd3: Harper crushes a pair of 470-ft. home runs

And with each Harper moonshot home run, the crowd grew louder in anticipation of the coming moment. His fellow All-Stars from the Nationals -- Doolittle, Max Scherzer and manager Dave Martinez -- all rallied behind him as well and Harper even got a pep talk from former Nats catcher Wilson Ramos, now of the Rays.

Tweet from @kschwarb12: What a show by @Bharper3407! @Nationals Park was rockin! Ran out of gas at the end but hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did! Thank you for the opportunity and see you in Chicago!

It was the perfect moment for the Nationals and Harper, a union that began when Harper was drafted at 17 years old, as he once again shined on a bright stage at his home ballpark.

Video: HRD Rd3: Harper rallies to win HRD with 19 home runs

"You could tell this was on his radar," Doolittle said. "He came here to win. He wasn't just having fun with the hometown crowd. I don't know, maybe the roll he got on tonight, that confidence you get from winning something like this in the way that he won it in front of the hometown fans. … I mean, yeah it's a silly competition, but at the end of the day, that could be something that really jump-starts a guy."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper

Max to make 2nd straight, 3rd career ASG start

Nats righty opening Midsummer Classic for first time at home ballpark
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Although National League manager Dave Roberts briefly considered some of his other options, deciding the starting pitcher for 89th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard was a simple decision.

Max Scherzer will start the game for the second consecutive year and third in his career, getting the nod to pitch in front of his home crowd and ballpark at Nationals Park. He will become the 12th pitcher to start an All-Star Game at his home ballpark and the first since Matt Harvey did so for the Mets in the Midsummer Classic at Citi Field in 2013 (a game Scherzer started for the American League). The game can be seen Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

WASHINGTON -- Although National League manager Dave Roberts briefly considered some of his other options, deciding the starting pitcher for 89th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard was a simple decision.

Max Scherzer will start the game for the second consecutive year and third in his career, getting the nod to pitch in front of his home crowd and ballpark at Nationals Park. He will become the 12th pitcher to start an All-Star Game at his home ballpark and the first since Matt Harvey did so for the Mets in the Midsummer Classic at Citi Field in 2013 (a game Scherzer started for the American League). The game can be seen Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::

"When Dave told me that I was -- that he was going to give me the nod, so many emotions when you know that you're pitching in your home park," Scherzer said. "This is such an honor for the All-Star Game to be here. In previous experiences of being in the All-Star Games, you know, seeing the hometown players and how the fans get behind the hometown players, it's always been a special moment just watching that from afar and being on the other side."

Scherzer will match up against Boston's Chris Sale, who is starting for the third consecutive season, in a rematch of last season's All-Star Game. Roberts said he debated whether New York's Jacob deGrom deserved the nod with his 1.68 ERA at the break, but in the end the decision came easy.

"I think that when you sort of take in everything, the location, the ballpark, this great city -- and for me, the tiebreaker was the ballpark," Roberts said. "I think that it's trying to make it bigger than all of us, and I think the game is about the fans. And obviously, his intensity, I'm looking forward to it, and Jacob will pitch right behind him."

Video: WSH@NYM: Scherzer hurls 7 innings to earn 12th win

Scherzer has won the past two NL Cy Young Awards, but yet he earns this honor because his first half has somehow been even better. In 20 starts, he finished with a 2.41 ERA while his 182 strikeouts, 134 2/3 innings and 0.90 WHIP pace the Senior Circuit.

It makes him perhaps the front-runner to win the NL Cy Young Award for a third consecutive season, which would make him the third pitcher to do so joining Greg Maddux (1992-95) and Randy Johnson (1999-2002).

Video: Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper on Nats' season so far

"One of the best in baseball," Bryce Harper said. "Every fifth day, he's intense. He's a bulldog out there. He's what you want as a number one starter each and every night. I'm looking forward to seeing him on the bump tomorrow. I know he's probably fired up as all get out."

Last summer, Scherzer set the tone to start the All-Star Game by working a scoreless first inning and punching out Aaron Judge and George Springer. He also tossed a clean inning in 2013, punctuated by a strikeout of Joey Votto to end the inning.

Video: 2017 ASG: Scherzer K's two in scoreless 1st inning

Still, there are few players who get as pumped as Scherzer for the All-Star Game experience and for the chance to compete on this stage against the best of his peers.

"It's not even close. Honestly, it's probably the closest thing you get to the post-season in terms of like the atmosphere and the intensity and everything," Scherzer said. "A lot of times, I've always looked at pitching in the All-Star Game as a prelude to how you pitch in the postseason, sometimes how you might have to pitch on two days' rest out of the pen, only throw one inning and then you have to go face the best hitters. That's what you do in the All-Star Game.

"I've always loved pitching in these events. You can take something from it because you can use it later in the year."

While watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX on Tuesday, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote.

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.

For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Max Scherzer

Bryce Harper showed up to the Home Run Derby with a D.C. headband and amazing cleats

Bryce Harper is a man of style and taste and his hair is always on point. So, when the T-Mobile Home Run Derby was in his home ballpark, he made sure his uniform game was on point. 

While the other players donned their ballcaps, Harper showed off the Washington D.C. flag in a "Karate Kid"-style headband. 

Harper focused on winning, not free agency

Slugger, Scherzer, Doolittle excited to represent Nats at ASG
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper's every move has been scrutinized and closely monitored since he arrived in Washington, so it is only natural that he is once again the center of attention with the 89th MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX coming to Nationals Park. It is the halfway point of the much anticipated final year on his contract with the Nationals, one that so far has not lived up to the enormous expectations it carried.

Questions surrounding Harper's future have fueled the conversation around him for years now, and it was no different Monday afternoon at All-Star Game media day as Harper's table was crowded by a horde of reporters searching for insight into his next move.

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper's every move has been scrutinized and closely monitored since he arrived in Washington, so it is only natural that he is once again the center of attention with the 89th MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX coming to Nationals Park. It is the halfway point of the much anticipated final year on his contract with the Nationals, one that so far has not lived up to the enormous expectations it carried.

Questions surrounding Harper's future have fueled the conversation around him for years now, and it was no different Monday afternoon at All-Star Game media day as Harper's table was crowded by a horde of reporters searching for insight into his next move.

:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::

"I think that everybody knew that at the beginning of the year this could be possibly my last year in D.C," said Harper, who would go on to win the T-Mobile Home Run Derby in front of his hometown fans. "Everybody knows that. There's no elephant in the room. Everybody knows that that's a possibility, but I'm not really focused on that. I'm focused on what I can do to help the team win on a daily basis."

Harper is joined by Max Scherzer, who was named the starting pitcher for the National League, and Sean Doolittle, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a left foot injury and will not pitch in the game, as the three representatives for Washington. The Nats enter the break at 46-46, a .500 record and currently in third place in the NL East. It's an underachievement considering their expectations at the start of the season, and Harper has been in some ways the singular public face of those struggles.

Video: Scherzer on being named the NL starter for the ASG

Harper labored through one of the worst slumps of his career in June to bring his slash line to .214/.365/.468 entering the break, a strong year by most standards (his OPS+ is 120) even if it falls short of his Herculean expectations. Instead of worrying about the batting average -- depressed by a surprisingly low .226 BABIP -- Harper said he focused on the rest of his production and ways he has helped contribute.

"I look up there and see my average as well, and I look up there and go, 'Aw, man, well that sucks,'" Harper said. "But I look over a little bit to the right side of that and see 23 homers and [54] RBIs and [78] walks and runs scored and stuff like that.

"I don't know. Should I be hitting .300 or .280? Yeah, absolutely. But I guess I am where I'm at, and hopefully the only way I can go is up."

Video: Bryce Harper on favorite players at All-Star game

The Nationals are also considering that the worst of their season is behind them. Stephen Strasburg has been lined up to pitch the first game after the break on Friday. Ryan Zimmerman began a Minor League rehab assignment Monday and could be activated from the DL this weekend. Doolittle even threw off flat ground in the outfield Monday and does not believe he will require a lengthy stay on the DL.

With those players returning from injury, plus some improved play in the second half, the Nats are still optimistic they are going to get on a roll in the second half.

"There's a lot of guys that have won a lot in that clubhouse," Doolittle said. "There's something to be said for just having a knack for winning. Just being able to win. It's one of those intangible things that I think still counts for a lot.

Video: Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper on Nats' season so far

"We're going to get healthy. ... We won't have that excuse anymore, so it's go time."

Harper has never been one to make excuses nor has his confidence wavered despite the slump. He insists the added pressures that come with a contract year, facing rounds of questions on Monday or representing the home team at the All-Star Game do not faze him. These are moments where Harper thrives.

"I'm 25 years old and I'm able to play this wonderful game of baseball every single day. What pressure do I have to feel?" he said. "What pressure do I feel running out to right field every single day? The pressure I feel is for every guy in my clubhouse, for every other guy on my team, for my fans in my stadium.

"It's the game that I love to play. It's something I get chills. There's nothing greater than going out there and putting on 34 and being Bryce Harper and loving the game that I play."

Video: Harper on what he'll listen to before the HR Derby

While watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX on Tuesday, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote.

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.

For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Sean Doolittle, Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer

Bryce Harper hit an amazing nine HRs in 50 seconds to come back and beat Kyle Schwarber for the Derby title

Bryce Harper wanted to win badly. His Dad was there to pitch to him. The Washington D.C. fans were there to cheer him on, and Harper was even wearing a D.C. flag headband. Given his penchant for hitting massive dingers, and that he waited to return to the T-Mobile Home Run Derby until the Nationals played host to the All-Star Game, he was almost fated to take home the crown. 

A record 221 dingers and more Derby facts

Harper hits 3 straight at 440-plus; Baez hammers 479-footer
MLB.com

It was a memorable, record-breaking night in the nation's capital as eight competitors battled it out in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Nationals Park.

In the end, the home favorite triumphed. Washington's Bryce Harper, buoyed by the crowd, walloped 19 final-round home runs -- the last during a 30-second bonus period -- to take a dramatic walk-off victory over Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs.

It was a memorable, record-breaking night in the nation's capital as eight competitors battled it out in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Nationals Park.

In the end, the home favorite triumphed. Washington's Bryce Harper, buoyed by the crowd, walloped 19 final-round home runs -- the last during a 30-second bonus period -- to take a dramatic walk-off victory over Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs.

When the dust settled, 221 homers had been launched into the humid D.C. air, setting a Derby record. The previous mark was 203 in 2016, and last year's event at Marlins Park saw 195 dingers. All of that added up to more than 16 miles worth of homers, according to Statcast™ -- or nearly half the distance from Nationals Park to Baltimore's Camden Yards.

Here is a look at some of the notable facts and figures from Monday's competition:

HARPER RISES TO THE OCCASION
• Harper hit six home runs over the final 29 seconds of the final round (prior to his 30-second bonus period) to tie Schwarber at 18 homers. Those included three straight with distances of more than 440 feet -- 452 feet (112 mph exit velocity) with 23 seconds remaining, 444 feet (106 mph exit velocity) with 18 seconds left, and 478 feet (111 mph exit velocity) with eight seconds left.

• Harper had no problems earning himself the bonus 30 seconds at the end of each round -- he led the Derby field in home runs of 440 feet or longer, with 15. That was one more than Schwarber's total of 14 blasts of 440-plus feet. To put that in context, the Rangers' Joey Gallo leads MLB with five homers of 440 feet or more during games this season, and the Rockies lead all teams with 15.

• While Javier Baez had the longest home run of the night at 479 feet in the first round, Harper was responsible for each of the next three longest: 478, 473 and 467 feet. Since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015, Harper has hit one homer longer than 461feet in a game -- a 473-foot blast at Nationals Park on May 4.

Video: HRD Rd3: Harper crushes a pair of homers over 470 ft.

• Harper also led the eight participants in home runs that exceeded the 110 mph exit-velocity mark (even though those didn't win him any bonus time). He had 12 of those rockets, again one more than Schwarber, who had 11.

• Harper appeared to get stronger as the Derby went on -- over the first two rounds, he hit a combined five homers of 450 feet or more. He equaled that in the final round.

• Harper became the first player in Nationals/Expos history to win the Home Run Derby. He is also the only player in Nationals/Expos history to finish runner-up, doing so in 2013 at Citi Field, when the Athletics' Yoenis Cespedes took home the trophy.

• Harper became the third player in Derby history to win in his home ballpark, joining the Cubs' Ryne Sandberg at Wrigley Field in 1990, and the Reds' Todd Frazier at Great American Ball Park in 2015.

A STELLAR SHOWING FOR SCHWARBER
• Although Schwarber ultimately came up short in the final, he did launch 55 homers over the three rounds, the most of anyone in the field.

• Schwarber's longest home run of the first half was tracked at 439 feet, but he popped 14 of 440 feet or longer in the Derby, one shy of Harper for the most of any hitter.

Video: HRD Rd2: Schwarber crushes 462-foot homer in Round 2

• It looked like Schwarber's night might be over in the second round, when Rhys Hoskins went first and ripped 20 homers. Schwarber then started slowly, homering just once out of his first eight swings. But he put on an impressive display from there, including a pair of streaks in which he homered on five consecutive swings. Then, in about the final 30 seconds, Schwarber parked his final five big flies to edge out Hoskins at the buzzer.

• One of Schwarber's last home runs was an absolute laser -- in the final round against Harper, he hit one 112 mph off the bat with a launch angle of just 18 degrees. The Cubs have not hit a lower home run than that in an official game since Statcast™ started tracking in 2015. They've hit six at 18 degrees, including one by Schwarber on April 24. That was a 117.1-mph screamer that set the Cubs' record for exit velocity on a home run.

THE BEST OF THE REST
• The trophy for longest home run of the night went to Baez. The Cubs' electric infielder sent a baseball a projected 479 feet into the seats in the first round, and no one topped that mark. (Harper was the only other player to break the 470-foot mark, hitting home runs of 478 feet and 473 feet in the final round.)

Video: HRD Rd1: Baez crushes homer 479 ft., longest of Derby

• The next longest home runs belonged to Hoskins, the only other player in the field to break the 460-foot mark on any of his homers. The Phillies' sophomore slugger did so twice, with a 463-foot shot as the first hitter of Round 1 and a 466-footer in Round 2, his longest of the night.

Video: HRD Rd2: Statcast™ measures Hoskins' 466-ft. dinger

Max Muncy has been hitting plenty of moonshots in his breakout season for the Dodgers, and he carried that tendency into the Derby. Muncy had the highest launch angle on his home runs of any participant -- 31.7 degrees, just ahead of Jesus Aguilar's 31.5-degree average.

• Aguilar hit one real skyscraper of a home run, sending one deep with a launch angle of 40 degrees. For all the home runs Aguilar has treated Brewers fans to this year, none have been as high as that one. Aguilar's career-high launch angle on a home run in a Major League game is 39 degrees (on May 27).

• There was only one Derby participant who averaged less than 100 mph and 400 feet on his home runs. That was the Astros' Alex Bregman, with an average home run exit velocity in the Derby of 98.4 mph and an average projected home run distance of 397.3 feet. He still hit 16 homers -- whatever gets them over the fence.

Freddie Freeman is known for his all-fields power, and he stayed consistent to his in-game approach. Five of the lefty slugger's 12 home runs in his first-round defeat went to the left of center. And the Braves first baseman stayed mostly in the middle of the field, not resorting to any dead-pull hitting.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper forgot he won a Home Run Derby as an 11-year-old, but the internet has receipts

Bryce Harper put on a show on Monday at Nationals Park, delighting the thousands of hometown fans in attendance by winning the T-Mobile Home Run Derby with a last-minute power surge. He toppled the Cubs' Kyle Schwarber in dramatic fashion by hitting nine homers in his final 50 seconds. 

It was the result of some clutch swings by Bryce and some even more clutch pitching from his father, Ron Harper, who served them up like a champ. After the post-Derby furor died down, the pair spoke to the media ... where it became apparent that this was not Harper's first Derby championship. He only thought it was his first. 

Manfred tours Library of Congress with students

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The participants of the All-Star Commissioner's Cup and the Jennie Finch Classic aren't just receiving valuable baseball and softball experience during their time in Washington, D.C. Some of that time in the nation's capital has been a learning experience, too, such as their visit to the Library of Congress on Monday morning.

The four championship teams playing the two PLAY BALL youth tournaments taking place during All-Star Week toured the Washington landmark after meeting with Commissioner Rob Manfred, who dropped by the library early in the morning to mingle with the kids.

WASHINGTON -- The participants of the All-Star Commissioner's Cup and the Jennie Finch Classic aren't just receiving valuable baseball and softball experience during their time in Washington, D.C. Some of that time in the nation's capital has been a learning experience, too, such as their visit to the Library of Congress on Monday morning.

The four championship teams playing the two PLAY BALL youth tournaments taking place during All-Star Week toured the Washington landmark after meeting with Commissioner Rob Manfred, who dropped by the library early in the morning to mingle with the kids.

:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::

The group of more than 100 posed for a photo with the Commissioner before embarking on an extensive stroll through the library, which is currently showcasing a "Baseball Americana" exhibit.

"One of the great things about the PLAY BALL program is we try to ensure there are non-baseball experiences around our events," Manfred said. "I know a lot of kids who have never been here. It really is a historic building. And they have a great baseball exhibit here."

Items on display range from old artifacts -- such as a fingerless baseball glove and a mushroom-handle bat from a century ago -- to modern equipment, such as bats and baseballs, to show how much the game has evolved over time.

Tweet from @PlayBall: What a morning touring the Library of Congress with Commissioner Manfred.Come join him at #Playball Park at 3pm today! pic.twitter.com/175JOI8LgT

There was also a broadcasting area where a TV screen played some of the most iconic calls from unforgettable baseball moments in history, from Russ Hodges' "The Giants win the pennant!" in 1951 to Joe Buck's call of the final out of the Cubs' World Series win in 2016 on FOX.

Tour guides were on hand to give each group an insider's view of the displays.

"It's cool because most of this stuff, I didn't know about," said Commissioner's Cup player Jalen White of Compton, Calif, who will be a freshman at San Diego State in the fall. "So it's nice to learn about it."

The Commissioner's Cup and the Jennie Finch Classic tournaments have extended throughout All-Star Week, with the finals held on Monday. Both events are new to All-Star Week, and MLB has been pleased with the results.

"It has been a real success for us," Manfred said. "We feel it's important for kids to continue our focus on young people during our best week of the summer. So both of those events are a part of that."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Harper dedicates field bearing his name

Bryce Harper All-Star Complex opens in Va.; outfielder donated money for diamond's completion
MLB.com

HERNDON, Va. -- To the wide smiles and admiring faces of several dozen Little Leaguers on Monday morning, Bryce Harper left another imprint on the Washington, D.C., area with the dedication of the Bryce Harper All-Star Complex at Fred Crabtree Park.

But it was what Harper said unrelated to the facility -- which he personally donated to help renovate -- that made the days of those in attendance of the ceremony.

HERNDON, Va. -- To the wide smiles and admiring faces of several dozen Little Leaguers on Monday morning, Bryce Harper left another imprint on the Washington, D.C., area with the dedication of the Bryce Harper All-Star Complex at Fred Crabtree Park.

But it was what Harper said unrelated to the facility -- which he personally donated to help renovate -- that made the days of those in attendance of the ceremony.

:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::

"Sorry, Davey Johnson," Harper joked to his first Major League manager, as he heaped praise on current Nationals skipper Dave Martinez. "He's one of the best managers I've ever played for. His door is always open, every single day. I look forward to hopefully playing with him for the next 10-12 years. He's one of the best. We'll see what happens."

The elation for those in attendance was boosted by the main reason for the event. Harper -- joined by Johnson, Martinez, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, principal owner Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, among others -- was there to unveil the second baseball complex bearing Harper's name in the D.C. area.

Located 28 miles from Nationals Park and near Harper's home in Northern Virginia, Fred Crabtree Park now features two newly renovated fields, thanks in part to what was described as a generous donation from the outfielder himself. In addition to the Virginia complex, Bryce Harper Field resides at the Takoma Community Center in Northwest D.C.

"Growing up, you always wondered what field you were going to play at, and seeing that you were playing at a nice field that day, there was nothing better," Harper said after he took pictures and showed off his cleats for the T-Mobile Home Run Derby with kids in attendance. "Being able to have these kids play at my field each and every night is pretty incredible. Very excited for them."

"Each season, I get excited for a new Nats uniform and a new batting helmet or bat," said Donovan Willson, a 10-year-old player in Reston Herndon Little League. "But none of that compares to how excited I am for the opportunity to play on these new Bryce Harper fields."

Also in attendance were members of Harper's family, including his father Ron, mother Sheri and wife Kayla. Harper got emotional while describing his time growing up playing on fields exactly like the one he helped renovate for Monday's ceremony.

"Growing up, that was one thing that I really enjoyed -- going to the field with my dad," Harper said, choking up and fighting back tears. "Going to the park with your dad and having mom yelling and screaming in the stands, there's nothing better than that."

Harper also said that while the new facility will bring great baseball opportunities to Little Leaguers in the area, he encouraged kids to remain kids. He expressed his desire for children to play all different types of sports and games; joining up with recommendations from Aspen Institute Project Play, of which MLB is a sponsor.

"I don't have kids yet, but I hope my kid plays hockey … for the [Vegas] Golden Knights," Harper said to a cacophony of groans and laughs from residents in Washington Capitals territory. "Sorry about the boos."

Though it continues to remain unclear whether Harper will remain in the nation's capital past the 2018 season, he has made his legacy in the area clear, by both his on-the-field excellence and off-the-field generosity, Martinez said.

"I get to see this kid every day, and to see his passion not only for himself but for his teammates and coaching staff -- he's a ballplayer," Martinez said after the ceremony. "More than that, he's a great human being and person."

Zachary Silver is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore. Follow him on Twitter at @zachsilver

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper

Nats rally in 7th to end uneven first half with win

Murphy breaks 1-1 tie with two-run single; Hellickson tosses six innings of one-run ball
MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Not long before the Nationals concluded their inconsistent first half by salvaging a split with the Mets at Citi Field, their manager reflected -- with an eye to the trainer's room -- on what he called the most "baffling" aspect of his first year on the job. Injuries have hamstrung the Nats, perhaps more than any other team in baseball, forcing them to endure long stretches without a slew of key contributors. Since opening the season with World Series aspirations, rarely have they played at full strength.

Such sentiment applies to few individuals more than Daniel Murphy, whose pinch-hit, two-run single sparked Sunday's 6-1 win and sent the Nats into the All-Star break on a high note. Washington will bank largely on a resurgence from its second baseman -- who missed 10 weeks due to knee surgery -- as well as recovering stars Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg to inspire a similar, large-scale turnaround in the coming months.

View Full Game Coverage

NEW YORK -- Not long before the Nationals concluded their inconsistent first half by salvaging a split with the Mets at Citi Field, their manager reflected -- with an eye to the trainer's room -- on what he called the most "baffling" aspect of his first year on the job. Injuries have hamstrung the Nats, perhaps more than any other team in baseball, forcing them to endure long stretches without a slew of key contributors. Since opening the season with World Series aspirations, rarely have they played at full strength.

Such sentiment applies to few individuals more than Daniel Murphy, whose pinch-hit, two-run single sparked Sunday's 6-1 win and sent the Nats into the All-Star break on a high note. Washington will bank largely on a resurgence from its second baseman -- who missed 10 weeks due to knee surgery -- as well as recovering stars Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg to inspire a similar, large-scale turnaround in the coming months.

View Full Game Coverage

"The good part is they should all be back," manager Dave Martinez said. "And we should be at full tilt. We come back, we start fresh."

Murphy plans to be active during the break, eschewing rest for weight training and baseball activities his mostly inactive offseason didn't allow for. Zimmerman will see live game action, testing his right oblique in three rehab games for the first time since straining it in May. He and Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) could return as early as Friday, when the Nationals open the second half against Atlanta. They will do so back at .500 -- which they've hovered for much of the past two weeks -- 5 1/2 games back of the first-place Phillies.

"We need all the wins we can get right now," said Jeremy Hellickson, who tossed six strong innings in Sunday's win. "Philly and Atlanta aren't going anywhere. We need to step up and play the way we're capable of playing."

Video: WSH@NYM: Hellickson strikes out 6 across 6 innings

All of which puts Martinez in a familiar situation: he was the bench coach in Chicago last season when the Cubs, division favorites by a wide margin, limped into the break two games under .500 and 5 1/2 games behind the upstart Brewers. Chicago ended up winning the National League Central by six games.

"There are similarities," Martinez acknowledged.

For this year's Nats to follow suit, Martinez will need to steer them to more wins like Sunday, when their inconsistencies faded into the background, if only for a day.

A lineup that's relied disproportionally on the home run rewarded Hellickson with a small-ball rally in the seventh, when the Nats turned three hits, two walks and two hit batsmen into five runs. Murphy came off the bench to plate the go-ahead runs against Jerry Blevins; he's yet to start four consecutive games since returning last month.

Video: WSH@NYM: Murphy pulls a clutch 2-run single to right

"As a ballclub, we would've liked to have played better. But we're not out of it by any stretch of the imagination," Murphy said. "Hopefully at the end of the season, I'll be a productive contributor to a team that is postseason bound."

SOUND SMART
This is the first time the Nationals have entered the break at .500 or below since 2011.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Both teams faced an adjustment period following a 47-minute rain delay that preceded the game's first pitch, after which soft infield conditions led to some sloppy play. Michael Conforto slipped rounding third base in the second, which precluded him from scoring after Devin Mesoraco singled off Hellickson. Trea Turner and Wilmer Difo both fell down trying to turn a double play later in the frame, when Jose Reyes bounced a routine grounder to short.

Video: WSH@NYM: Reyes scores Conforto on RBI forceout

NATS MAKE MOVES
The Nationals bolstered their bullpen depth early Sunday by recalling right-hander Trevor Gott, who owns a 4.96 ERA in 18 appearances, from Triple-A Syracuse. He filled the roster spot of Austin Voth, who was optioned following his MLB debut on Saturday. Gott's third stint with the big league club this season could be a short one -- he's likely to be optioned if Strasburg is healthy enough to be reinstated from the disabled list for Friday's second-half opener.

On the DL since early June with right-shoulder soreness, Strasburg made his second rehab start Sunday at Class A Advanced Potomac. The Nats hope he does not require another.

HE SAID IT
"For me, our first half was not disappointing. People can look at our record and say, 'The Nationals should be this or that.' ... But I'm proud of the boys. We faced some adversity over the first few months." -- Martinez

UP NEXT
The Nationals have not finalized their pitching alignment to open the second half, which they'll begin with a 7:05 p.m. ET matchup with the Braves on Friday at Nationals Park. In addition to getting more consistent production from superstar Bryce Harper, they are also hopeful Strasburg will be ready to rejoin the rotation soon enough to remain on turn following his rehab start Sunday. Washington could also give Strasburg an extra day of rest and start Max Scherzer, given his workload in Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard is expected to be limited to one inning.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

Washington Nationals

Army rep wins Armed Services HR Challenge

Hensal hits walk-off winner after Navy's Newbern falls short
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The nerves were unrelenting. The nights, sleepless. The anticipation, endless.

Ever since winning the inaugural All-Star Armed Services Home Run Challenge presented by T-Mobile on Friday, both U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Jacob Hensal and Naval Cryptic Technician Russ Newbern couldn't have expected to be where they were Monday night: in the batter's box at Nationals Park. And the country was watching.

WASHINGTON -- The nerves were unrelenting. The nights, sleepless. The anticipation, endless.

Ever since winning the inaugural All-Star Armed Services Home Run Challenge presented by T-Mobile on Friday, both U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Jacob Hensal and Naval Cryptic Technician Russ Newbern couldn't have expected to be where they were Monday night: in the batter's box at Nationals Park. And the country was watching.

"There's really nothing like it," Newbern said, adding with a laugh: "I know I keep saying that, but there's no words to describe it."

Newbern -- the victor in the original challenge with five homers -- didn't perform to the standard he set for himself Friday, failing to homer in the 60 seconds allotted to each batter in the breaks of T-Mobile Monday's Home Run Derby . Hensal, who won via walk-off homer in a playoff after a first-round tie, hit a homer about 15 seconds into his turn for yet another walk-off win on the big stage.

"I was nervous," Hensal said. "[Newbern] hit a bunch on Friday, so he had me worried the whole time, honestly. But it felt great."

Despite the high stakes of their everyday life in the military, both participants said Monday's derby was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in their life. It was aided by chatting and getting tips from the Major League All-Stars to quell some of those nerves.

"They're like, 'Just relax, swing smooth and it'll be fine,'" Hensal said. "It helped a lot, actually."

"And we got Freddie Freeman's autograph," said Newbern, who wore a Braves hat during his turn at the plate on Friday.

A member of each branch of the Armed Forces competed in the Home Run Challenge that followed the inagural All-Star Armed Services Classic presented by T-Mobile. Hensal and Newbern -- the winners -- were joined by Chris Maddox of the Marines, Matthew Campbell of the Air Force and Ken Glover of the Coast Guard.

The competition followed the inaugural All-Star Armed Services Classic championship game between the Army and Air Force after all five branches competed in a round-robin tournament in early June. Hensal and his Army squad fell to the Air Force, 9-2.

"There's more to the military than going and serving. You get to do stuff like this," Newbern said of what he hopes people take from the event. "[It will hopefully] open their eyes about the opportunities you can get by being in the military."

"Anything is possible when you have an opportunity like this," Hensal added.

Zachary Silver is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore. Follow him on Twitter at @zachsilver .

Nats duo offers glimpse at Futures Game

Kieboom plays shortstop for USA; Garcia draws walk for World
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Members within the Nationals' organization reject the notion that their window is closing. Even with a few key players approaching free agency and some of their stars aging, the Nats point to the talent the team continues to churn out as proof.

Talent such as Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia -- the club's second- and fifth-ranked prospects per MLB Pipeline, respectively -- who represented Washington in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday. Kieboom's Team USA outslugged Garcia's World squad, 10-6.

WASHINGTON -- Members within the Nationals' organization reject the notion that their window is closing. Even with a few key players approaching free agency and some of their stars aging, the Nats point to the talent the team continues to churn out as proof.

Talent such as Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia -- the club's second- and fifth-ranked prospects per MLB Pipeline, respectively -- who represented Washington in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday. Kieboom's Team USA outslugged Garcia's World squad, 10-6.

The crowd at Nationals Park gave Kieboom a rousing ovation when he was introduced before the game and during his first at-bat in the seventh inning, when he struck out against right-hander Adonis Medina. Kieboom struck out in both of his at-bats, while Garcia walked in his lone plate appearance.

:: 2018 Futures Game coverage ::

"It's awesome," Kieboom said about the fan reaction. "It's really cool to see the fans come up around you and applaud like you that, that's always fun."

Kieboom, the club's first-round Draft pick in 2016, enjoyed a fast start that earned him a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg. In 81 games between Class A Advanced and Double-A, Kieboom posted a slash line of .300/.380/.480 with 13 home runs. He attributed his success at the plate to keeping his approach simple.

Kieboom, whose brother Spencer is a catcher on the Nationals roster, is starting to knock on the door of the Majors, and although he said he did not set a timetable for himself, he was excited to walk into the Nats clubhouse -- one he hopes he can call home soon.

"It's special," said Kieboom, who replaced Bo Bichette at shortstop in the top of the fifth inning. "Walking in any big league park is awesome, but to walk into this one and to be in the nation's capital, I think it's a little extra special."

Garcia, who just turned 18 in May, was the youngest player on either roster Sunday. He has a slash line of .302/.339/.402 in 87 games between Class A Hagerstown and Class A Advanced Potomac. Garcia replaced Luis Urias at second base in the bottom of the fifth.

The Nats have reaped the benefits lately of their international signings. Juan Soto has hit to become the everyday left fielder in D.C. much sooner than expected, and top prospect Victor Robles is on the way back from an injury. Garcia offers another example of the strides the Nationals have made in that market and one of the next wave of prospects who could keep their window open for much longer.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Luis Garcia, Carter Kieboom

Commissioner's Cup a thrill for Cincy teen

Health issues nearly kept Connor Curtin from attending All-Star event in DC
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Connor Curtin was sitting in his doctor's office in a Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati when he received the bad news.

Curtin was supposed to travel to Washington during All-Star Week to participate with the Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy in the MLB Commissioner's Cup, a tournament for players ages 17 and under from MLB Youth Academies.

WASHINGTON -- Connor Curtin was sitting in his doctor's office in a Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati when he received the bad news.

Curtin was supposed to travel to Washington during All-Star Week to participate with the Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy in the MLB Commissioner's Cup, a tournament for players ages 17 and under from MLB Youth Academies.

On May 31, Curtin said he underwent surgery to remove a benign tumor of his leg bone that was supposed to sideline him for a month. Curtin said the tumor was larger than doctors expected, so his doctor told him he couldn't participate in contact sports for eight weeks, which Curtin expected to keep him out of the Commissioner's Cup.

:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::

"He was crushed," said Curtin's father, Chris. "I mean, literally. Almost in tears."

But those emotions changed at the beginning of July. Connor was packing for the possible trip to Washington, hopeful he'd still go, when he received an email, which said the Reds Youth Academy and MLB would allow him to travel to Washington. Now, Connor is experiencing one of the best weeks of his life, hanging out with teammates, cheering them on during games and partaking in MLB All-Star Week activities.

"My favorite part of the whole trip," Connor said, "was really being able to come at all."

Connor's father discovered a lump near his son's right femur about five years ago while rubbing his leg. About two days later, Connor visited a doctor and was diagnosed with osteochondroma, which means there's an overgrowth of cartilage and bone near the growth plate. It's noncancerous.

The doctor was worried about removing the tumor at the time because it was close to Connor's growth plate, Connor's father said. Instead, Connor said he returned yearly for checkups. After three years, Connor said he only had to come back every two years because of his progress.

Connor applied medical tape and extra padding to his leg so he could play the infield in baseball and suit up as an offensive lineman in football. Connor didn't want his peers to know about his condition, but he said the bump was visible when he wore shorts.

Last fall, the condition worsened. It hurt for a few moments at a time, and sometimes, the 14-year-old couldn't support himself standing, his father said. At a doctor's appointment soon after, Connor's father said the doctor told him Connor's tumor had grown and he needed to remove it. So, Connor underwent surgery. Curtin's father said the doctor described his son's tumor as the size of a racquetball.

Connor, who joined the Cincinnati Youth Academy about two years ago, pitched in his academy's game the night before surgery because he wanted a baseball memory to hold onto.

To keep busy after surgery, Connor took high school classes in June, but that was before he received news he would travel to Washington. Connor said one of his coaches in particular, Jeremy Hamilton, worked hard to make sure he would have a spot.

"He was on cloud nine," Chris Curtin said. "He was so pumped. He just couldn't stop talking about it."

Connor has spent the majority of the games during his trip carrying bags and warming up his teammates. But on Friday, Hamilton gave Connor an at-bat, which ended in a walk. Connor said getting to play "meant the world" to him.

Next year, Connor will revisit his doctor to make sure the surgery worked, but he's happy with his health. So on Monday, Connor will enjoy the T-Mobile MLB Home Run Derby at Nationals Park stress-free, just 2 1/2 weeks away from likely playing baseball and football again.

"There are tons of stories that don't have the ending we have," Connor's father said, "and we're blessed and grateful."

The Philadelphia and Kansas City Youth Academies will play in the MLB Commissioner's Cup championship Monday afternoon at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. Philadelphia and Kansas City finished as the top National League and American League teams, respectively, during round-robin play.

No. 1 seed Compton defeated No. 4 seed Texas in the Jennie Finch Classic semifinals Sunday to advance to the championship Monday afternoon at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. Compton will face the No. 3 seed Nationals, who defeated No. 2 seed Jennie Finch's Aces on Sunday.

Sunday's results

Baseball:
Philadelphia Phillies 10, Washington Nationals 2
NOLA 3, Compton 2

Softball:
Texas Rangers 7, Compton 8
Nationals 6, Jennie's Aces 2

Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.