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Dream Foundation dedicates Bryce Harper Field

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper stepped up to a lectern in front of the pitcher's mound at the newly christened Bryce Harper Field in Northwest D.C., the field packed down both baselines with local residents surrounding the Takoma Community Center, D.C. officials and a Little League team sitting on the first base line and watching in awe.

The Nationals Dream Foundation dedicated Bryce Harper Field on Saturday morning, their third legacy field, committed to renovating one youth baseball or softball field in the D.C. region each year. Ryan Zimmerman Field in 2016 and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez Field in '17 have also been created through this initiative.

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WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper stepped up to a lectern in front of the pitcher's mound at the newly christened Bryce Harper Field in Northwest D.C., the field packed down both baselines with local residents surrounding the Takoma Community Center, D.C. officials and a Little League team sitting on the first base line and watching in awe.

The Nationals Dream Foundation dedicated Bryce Harper Field on Saturday morning, their third legacy field, committed to renovating one youth baseball or softball field in the D.C. region each year. Ryan Zimmerman Field in 2016 and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez Field in '17 have also been created through this initiative.

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Saturday belonged to Harper, who started off his speech by sarcastically joking about how much he loves public speaking. Then, he remarked how honored he was to have a field named after himself and encouraged children to get involved and play any sport they can.

Tweet from @kayyharper8: Bryce Harper

"To be able to have my own field in D.C., it means a lot," Harper said. "This is my second home. This is somewhere I love to be. Kids out there playing the game, if they can look behind them and see that it's Bryce Harper Field and maybe give them that little edge, maybe a little bit more or play a little harder."

Bryce Harper Field will accommodate different styles of youth baseball play and will serve the surrounding community by hosting the Senators Satchel Paige Little League games. It's located at the Takoma Community Center, which is blocks away from where the Lerner family grew up.

"To be able to have a field in this area, it just goes to show how great it is and how good the community is around here," Harper said. "Looking forward to maybe seeing a game or two out here."

Whether Harper will be around in the future to see many games at this field is one of the more intriguing parts of this field dedication. Zimmerman is a franchise cornerstone, the club's first Draft pick after relocating to Washington in 2005, who has spent his entire career here. Rodriguez's tenure in D.C. was short, but he is a Hall of Famer who made a strong impact within the area during his brief tenure. Dedicating a field to them were easy calls because their impact with the Nationals is cemented.

While Harper is without question one of the most important players in Nationals history, however, his contract is set to expire at the end of the year. It could make for an awkward situation past this season if he chooses to sign elsewhere in free agency. Or perhaps regardless of where he signs his next contract, Harper has already made his imprint on the D.C. community since his debut in 2012.

"Have fun, enjoy it. Enjoy the process of playing baseball," Harper said during his speech. "Play as many sports as you can because that's what it's all about ... whatever you do, boy and girl, do everything you can to exceed your expectations. Have fun, enjoy it and hope you guys have fun on Bryce Harper Field."

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

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper