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Bryce Opening Day tradition? Phanatic swag

@ToddZolecki
July 25, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Bryce Harper is making the Phanatic his Opening Day thing for the rest of his Phillies career. What is his Opening Day thing? If you checked social media Friday or watched the game on TV, you certainly saw Harper’s sharp, dark green suit with a Phanatic-themed jacket lining

PHILADELPHIA -- Bryce Harper is making the Phanatic his Opening Day thing for the rest of his Phillies career.

What is his Opening Day thing?

If you checked social media Friday or watched the game on TV, you certainly saw Harper’s sharp, dark green suit with a Phanatic-themed jacket lining and Harper’s furry and shiny Phanatic cleats. It topped his Phanatic-themed Opening Day attire from 2019, when he wore a black Phanatic and Gritty T-shirt and green Phanatic cleats.

“I just love trying to develop something that really attaches myself with the fans and things like that,” Harper said Saturday. “I love this game. I love this city. I’m a fan, just like anybody else. I’m a fan of the Phillies and all the players on our team, the people around and everything like that. So just being able to have the Phanatic … I’ll probably end up doing that for the rest of my career, I would imagine. Every Opening Day weekend for the three games, wear the Phanatic cleats or just Opening Day or whatever I decide to do. I imagine I’ll develop something with the Phillie Phanatic.”

Harper’s suit is not off the rack, of course. He said a friend from STITCHED at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas designed and tailored it. Harper offered ideas and feedback along the way.

Harper said they made three more Phillies-themed suits. He is not sure when he will wear them. Sunday Night Baseball might be a good bet for one of them.

And those shoes? Wow. Harper said a Michigan woman named Leah Miller designed his Under Armour cleats to include green fur and Swarovski crystals, glamming up the Phanatic’s multicolored eyes, eyebrows and eyelashes.

“She did a Golden Knights jacket for me for the playoffs,” Harper said. “She did a jacket for [wife] Kayla when I was on the Nationals that was All-Star studded and things like that for the playoffs as well, so I decided to reach out and ask if she could do a pair of shoes. I just get a text from my buddy at Under Armour and he sent me the shoe and I was mind blown. I couldn’t believe that she was able to do this. Just everything with it, the fur, the diamonds, she did an unbelievable job to really come up with it and the effort that she put into it.

“I was so pumped. I was so excited to wear them. I’m never scared to do something, ever really worried about how something will be perceived even if it has glitter or fur on them. I just really enjoy developing stuff and making stuff that makes people happy in their life. That’s something that brings me joy in mine. If I can share that with the world and share that with Phillies fans all over the country, especially those cleats yesterday, she did such a great job, it brought a little bit of happiness in the trying times that we’re in right now.”

Harper said his teammates and coaches loved them.

“I think [manager Joe] Girardi did, I’m not really sure,” he said.

But did all the crystals actually stay on the shoes?

“Yeah, well, I didn’t really do much yesterday, so,” Harper chuckled, referring to his 0-for-3 with a walk stat line in a 5-2 loss to the Marlins. “They definitely stayed on.”

Harper had one more moment for Phillies fans before Opening Day got rolling Friday. Throughout last season, Harper ran to right field, bowed to the fans and offered a fist pump or two. He said he did not want to break tradition, even with no fans at the ballpark because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harper found a camera in right field, bowed and pumped his fist.

“I thought if I could find a camera, then it’s kind of like me doing it to the fans at home,” he said. “I thought that was pretty cool. We’ll do that every day. I’ll find the camera every day and do that. It’s kind of like nothing’s changed and I’m still doing the same things I’m doing. I’m just trying to keep it as normal as possible.”

Nothing was.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .