Bryce Harper thanked Nationals fans for his time in Washington, D.C., in a heartfelt letter posted to his Instagram page Tuesday afternoon. The Phillies outfielder published the message hours before his new team takes on his old team at Nationals Park, where he admits he expects to hear some boos from the local fans.
“If you would have told me five years ago I would be walking into Nationals Park as an opposing player, I would’ve told you that you were crazy,” the caption from Harper starts. “Five years later, I’m doing just that.”
Harper, who played his first seven big league seasons with the Nationals after being selected first overall in the 2010 draft, left the club in the offseason to sign a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. Neither of the Nationals’ two offers came close to that guaranteed commitment, according to the Washington Post, and the team also wanted significant deferred money.
Many Nationals fans have been upset with Harper for his decision anyway, but it’s clear the six-time All-Star had a sweet spot for the D.C. area.
The Phillies face the Nationals at 6:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday night.
Here’s the complete letter from Harper’s Instagram:
“If you would have told me 5 years ago I would be walking into Nationals Park as an opposing player, I would’ve told you that you were crazy. Five years later, I’m doing just that. I remember the first day I walked into Nats Park. My first base hit. My first home run. And, of course, my first standing ovation. Nationals fans delivered that first ovation.
The things that I will miss most are the relationships I gained on a personal level with so many of the Nationals staff and workers around the ballpark. Every day I walked in, I got a smile or shared a laugh with you. I especially want to thank The Lerner Family and Mike Rizzo for the unwavering support they showed me during my tenure in DC.
The city of DC was home. Filomena’s, The Silver Diner, The Italian store, and countless other places helped make it feel like home. You, Nationals fans, made me one of your own for the entire time I was a part of the Nationals organization. I’m so blessed to have been able to play for a fan base that cared so much about our team each and every night.
You will always hold a special place in my heart no matter what. I look forward to continuing Harpers Heroes with LLS in the DMV as well as making sure the legacy fields bearing my name are the best youth fields in town!
When I run on the field tonight I am sure to hear some boos, but I will always remember the cheers and the screams that are still with me right now, as I start my new chapter. So for that, DC, THANK YOU.”