'I just love being a Phillie': Harper reflects on 300th homer

August 30th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA --  watched the baseball fly.

Once it cleared the right-center-field wall and landed in the first few rows of seats, Harper dropped his bat, spun toward his teammates in the Phillies’ dugout and pumped his fist.

Harper hit the 300th home run of his career in the eighth inning Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park. It was a go-ahead two-run home run against the Angels. It was too perfect considering the score, the historic significance of the blast and the month the Phillies had been having. In the end, it was. The Phillies allowed three runs in the ninth to lose, 10-8. But Philadelphia left the ballpark believing it has more moments like this ahead.

“We’re that team,” Harper said. “I think that’s what everyone was waiting for, those moments. That’s the team we are.”

Harper celebrated with his teammates in the dugout before he climbed the steps to take a curtain call from 34,655 fans. He raised both arms into the air, turning to acknowledge everyone. He kissed the ‘Phillies’ script on the front of his jersey.

“I really wanted to do it at home in front of this fanbase and this great city,” Harper said.

Harper expects more milestone moments like this in Philly.

“Hopefully 300 more,” he said. “Growing up, you don't really think about the one or the two or the three [homers]. You think about the bigger numbers. Very happy with where I'm at right now, just a stepping stone into the next couple.”

The Phillies hit an MLB-best 59 home runs in August. It is a franchise record for the most homers in a single calendar month. It is tied for the third-most homers by any team in any month since at least 1904.

The Phils went 17-10 in August to take first place in the NL Wild Card race. They have a three-game lead over the Cubs with 29 games to play. The Giants, D-backs and other teams are chasing both of them. The Phillies like where they are heading because they believe the team that played so well in August is who they are.

“We come from behind almost every single game, which is a good and bad thing,” said. “I think that's special, not every group can do that. I feel like we have a little bit of a knack for that. The other thing is I think we can just win so many different ways.

“Whether it's small ball … we’ve been hitting homers, we’ve been manufacturing runs, we’ve been stealing some bases, we can pitch, we can make some good plays on defense. It’s just a little bit of everything, and I think that versatility is really big going forward.”

Think about everything that happened this month. It started with Nick Castellanos hitting a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning to beat the Marlins in Miami on Aug. 1. It continued with Turner. He started the month hitting in the batting cage until midnight in Miami on Aug. 2, hoping to shake himself from a season-long slump. He got standing ovations before each of his at-bats at the Bank on Aug. 4. He hit a go-ahead homer the next night to beat Kansas City.

Turner hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the sixth inning on Wednesday. He batted .365 with nine home runs, 26 RBIs and a 1.164 OPS in 24 games since his return to Philly on Aug. 4.

“Playing better, feeling better, it's been more normal and it definitely translated on the field,” Turner said. “And you know, that's what kickstarted it so, good month, keep it rolling and just keep that same feeling that I had for the 26-or-so days and making those adjustments and competing and having fun.”

Michael Lorenzen threw a no-hitter in his first start at home with the Phillies on Aug. 9. Weston Wilson hit a home run in his first MLB plate appearance in the same game, after toiling seven seasons in the Minor Leagues.

There were so many big moments and homers that it is impossible to remember them all.

Harper had his share. He always does. He batted .361 with 10 homers, 24 RBIs and a 1.236 OPS this month.

“I'm very fortunate and very blessed to put this uniform on each day with 'Phillies' across my chest,” Harper said. “I'm so thankful that me and John [Middleton] were able to sit down after the 2018 season and get something done. Very fortunate to have a long-term deal and play this game for a long time. Hopefully, I'm able to do it for even longer than my contract says now. 

“I just love being a Phillie, plain and simple. It's something I dreamed about. This fanbase, this city -- I love them, plain and simple. I feel like I'm part of this family, there's nothing like it. I could go on and on, everybody thinks I pander a lot, but it's real. It's so real. It's from the bottom of my heart, and I'm just thankful to put this jersey on every day.”