'Pretty cool' moment as Masataka Yoshida meets idol Bryce Harper

Red Sox rookie receives game-used NLCS bat, pair of green spikes signed by Phillies star

May 7th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- Life is pretty good for Red Sox left fielder  these days. In the midst of a 15-game hitting streak, Yoshida got to meet his idol prior to Saturday’s game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

That would be Bryce Harper. The same Bryce Harper that Yoshida wore No. 34 in honor of in Japan. The same Bryce Harper that led Yoshida to name his French Bulldog, “Harper.”

As part of the meet-and-greet, Harper gifted Yoshida a signed, game-used bat from last year’s National League Championship Series. Harper inscribed it, “To Masataka, MVPX2, GU: NLCS bat.”

“Obviously that’s going to be my treasure,” Yoshida said.

The other bat Yoshida received had a caricature of Harper’s face near the top of it. And Harper also gave him a pair of signed, green spikes.

When Yoshida was completing his college career in Japan, Harper became his favorite player.

“The last year of my college career, he was a really appealing player to me and he has a great swing, and that’s why I became his fan,” Yoshida said. “He’s one year older than me, but he had already played really well in big league games and that’s the reason I became such a fan of his.”

When Yoshida was playing for the Orix Buffaloes, Harper sent him a jersey. Yoshida gleefully posed with that jersey on social media.

Harper, who remembers how much he looked up to Yankees stars Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams during his youth, is honored that Yoshida feels that way about him.

“Yeah, it’s really cool,” Harper said. “When you’re younger, you try to look up to guys or emulate guys. For me, that’d be my dad. I remember him working his tail off just to provide for us. To be able to have that impact on other people, it’s pretty cool.

“It’s a very humbling situation to be somebody that is looked up to in any walk of life. To be able to be that person for somebody is pretty cool.”

Harper is taking note of how swiftly Yoshida (.315/.400/.537, six homers, 24 RBIs in 108 at-bats) is adapting to the highest level of baseball in the world.

“He’s been able to come over here and have major success in his first couple weeks,” Harper said. “Especially in that market in Boston, you guys know how tough it is up there, for him to do that at this point, it’s really cool.”

The schedule for this Red Sox-Phillies series couldn’t have come at a better time for Yoshida. He was standing in left field on Friday night when Harper, who made a swift recovery from Tommy John surgery, received a standing ovation prior to his first home at-bat for the Phillies since Game 5 of the 2022 World Series.

“I think he is an obvious superstar because when he comes up for the at-bat, he makes the fans excited,” Yoshida said.

Todd Zolecki contributed to this story.