ATLANTA -- The sold-out crowd of 48,282 at Turner Field serenaded Bryce Harper with a chorus of boos, first during pregame introductions and again as he stepped into the batter's box in the first inning of Monday's season opener between the Nationals and the Braves. Harper acknowledged the crowd with
ATLANTA -- The sold-out crowd of 48,282 at Turner Field serenaded Bryce Harper with a chorus of boos, first during pregame introductions and again as he stepped into the batter's box in the first inning of Monday's season opener between the Nationals and the Braves. Harper acknowledged the crowd with a wave pregame before he silenced them with his bat at the plate.
Harper, the unanimous 2015 National League Most Valuable Player, picked up where he left off last season, punctuating an eight-pitch at-bat with Braves starter Julio Teheran by smashing a 2-2 pitch into right field for a solo home run in his first at-bat of the season in the Nats' eventual 4-3, 10-inning win.
"I think it's just part of the game," Harper said. "Coming in here, it's a lot of fun playing. They had a sold-out crowd today. That's huge, that's the first time I've ever seen Turner Field sold out. It's a lot of fun to play here and enjoy that with the fans."
Harper finished the day 1-for-3 with the homer, a pair of walks and a stolen base for the start of his encore performance after one of the best offensive seasons in recent memory.
Harper has made a habit of homering on Opening Day. This marks his fourth career home run in the season opener (twice in 2013 and once last season) in only four career games. The record for most homers on Opening Day is eight, shared by three players -- Frank Robinson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn. Harper is halfway to that record at the age of 23, with only four career Opening Days under his belt.
Harper has also had success against Teheran in his career. In 25 at-bats between the two, including Monday's game, Harper now owns 11 hits and four home runs vs. the right-hander.
And the fans have always booed Harper loudly here, something he seems to relish, a product of being the best player on a division rival. Echoing from behind the first-base line in his at-bats following the home run were chants of "We Hate Harper."
"I heard Bryce usually gets booed here," manager Dusty Baker said. "I just told Bryce: 'They still love you.'"
Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.