Bryce Harper Celebrates 31st Birthday With Playoff Homer

Photo: Instagram/Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper had long yearned to play a baseball game on his birthday, a wish he could never fulfill during his time with the Nationals.

It wasn't until he became a Phillie and reached the playoffs that he finally had his chance, coinciding with an off-day following the NLDS. Despite October birthdays typically not offering opportunities for on-field excellence, Harper seized the moment in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series, becoming just the fourth player in AL/NL history to homer on his birthday in the postseason.

As Harper crossed home plate in the first inning of the Phillies' 5-3 victory over the D-backs, he playfully flashed three fingers on his left hand and one on his right, mimicking blowing out birthday candles on his 31st birthday. Citizens Bank Park erupted in response to his historic birthday homer.

Photo: Instagram/Bryce Harper

Teammate Kyle Schwarber described how the park went wild, and Phillies shortstop Trea Turner emphasized the significance of playing on one's birthday in the late stages of the postseason. Harper joined an exclusive group, including Willie Aikens, Evan Longoria, and Kolten Wong, as one of the few players to homer on their birthdays in the postseason.

He and Aikens are the only ones to do it in an LCS or World Series, and both achieved it as part of a multihit effort. Harper's memorable day continued with an RBI single in the third inning and a walk in the fifth, reaching base three times and scoring twice.

Aikens, known for his 1980 Royals contributions, is the only other player to homer twice on his birthday in a postseason game. Schwarber praised Harper's birthday swings and his ability to excel on this grand stage.

Turning 31 appeared to suit Harper well. His day started with a heartfelt text from his wife, Kayla, who was the first to offer her birthday wishes. Harper expressed his excitement about playing on his special day, and he didn't disappoint.

In the first inning, facing NL Cy Young Award contender Zac Gallen, Harper smashed a first-pitch fastball to right-center field for his birthday homer. As he rounded third base, Harper celebrated with a candle-blowing gesture at home plate, leaving fans in awe of his creative celebration.

Back in the dugout, his teammates thought he was signaling four fingers to represent his four home runs in this postseason. Harper's October performance had indeed been outstanding, with a .409/.567/.955 slash line in 30 plate appearances, seven RBIs, nine runs scored, and eight walks.

Remarkably, the Phillies had won all nine postseason games in which Harper homered since last year, making his contributions crucial for the team. Schwarber summed up the feeling in the dugout when Harper stepped up to the plate, highlighting the anticipation and expectation of something special happening every time he swung the bat.

Harper had become a force to be reckoned with in October, and his birthday homer was just the latest example of his remarkable performance on the big stage.

Read Next: Yordan Alvarez's Heroics Shine As Aroldis Chapman Falters In ALCS Game 2

Source: MLB

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