Fan who told Kapler of Harper deal died in crash

Matt Vecere was on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302

March 16th, 2019

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler learned Friday that one of the fans who first informed him of Philadelphia's 13-year, $330 million deal with superstar free agent Bryce Harper was among the 157 people killed in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on Sunday.

Matt Vecere was headed to Kenya for the United Nations Environment Assembly as part of his efforts to help deliver air and water filters to underprivileged communities, especially in Haiti, where he worked for many years.

In a tweet Friday, Kapler urged the Phillies community and the broader baseball community to support causes Vecere cared about, which his mother said included the environment, civil rights, social and environmental justice and advocacy for the less fortunate.

Vecere was in the stands behind the Phillies' dugout during a Spring Training game against the Blue Jays and was one of the first to relay the information that Harper had reportedly agreed to a record deal with the club. According to friends of his who contacted Kapler after his passing, Vecere said, "Bat him third and he'll give you 90 runs."

"Baseball brings people together," Kapler wrote in his tweet, "but Matt strove for bigger causes than what we do every day. As he loved the Phillies, I hope the community can return that love."