Baseball star Bryce Harper made headlines by signing a massive contract with the Philadelphia Phillies before the 2019 season. Harper’s deal was the largest in baseball history in terms of total money.
Every baseball fan knows Harper will have a significant impact on the Phillies on the field once the 2019 season starts. In his spring training debut last Saturday he walked twice but drew the most attention for using the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme as his walkup music.
But in the short time Harper’s been a Phillie, he’s already made his presence felt in two significant ways off the field.
Ticket and jersey sales
The formula most teams follow when signing big name free agents is simple: team signs Star Player X. They hope Star Player X leads the team to more wins. As the team sees an increase in wins, they also see an increase in box office receipts due to more ticket sales.
The Phillies didn’t even have to wait for the increase in wins part of that equation. Ticket sales surged dramatically as soon as Harper signed. According to the team, it sold more than 100,000 tickets the first day after signing Harper. The team also stated season ticket purchases jumped from 9,500 to 12,300.
Harper isn’t the only person responsible for the fans’ confidence in the team. The Phillies acquired several other stars such as J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutcheon, and Jean Segura this offseason, but Harper is certainly the biggest star and the main driving force behind the ticket sales surge.
The team has also sold a lot more merchandise since Bryce’s signing. Harper’s No. 3 jersey set a record, becoming the top-selling jersey of all-time within 24 hours of launching for any sport.
With more people in the park this year and with a new-look team that expects not only to contend but also be the favorite for the NL East crown, it seems as though merchandise and ticket sales will keep climbing for the Phillies this season.
Recruiting Mike Trout
Harper has also made headlines at his introductory press conference by seemingly recruiting star Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout to play with him in Philly when he’s a free agent in 2020.
When asked about the length of his deal, Harper said, “That’s one thing about this contract that I’m able to do. Having 13 years in one place, I can help recruit guys to this organization… I can be able to talk to Trout or whoever it is.” This left Phillies fans with images of two All-Star outfielders in their primes dancing in their heads.
Not everyone was thrilled about Harper’s open pitch, however. The Angels almost immediately asked MLB to investigate Harper’s not-so-subtle request for Trout to join him. MLB has rules in place against tampering. It chided Aaron Judge and David Ortiz for doing it in the past.
Only time will tell if Harper’s initial pitch is perceived favorably by Trout. However, by simply stating the obvious, Harper has put the consideration into the minds of both Trout and baseball fans everywhere. If the Phillies have a successful season with a deep playoff run and a productive year from Harper, Trout will at the very least look their way when he hits the open market.
The Phillies seem smart for investing in Bryce Harper
It’s pretty from the ticket sales, jersey sales, and headlines he’s caused thus far that Bryce Harper has already had a significant impact on the Philadelphia Phillies — and that’s before the first pitch has even been thrown. There’s little doubt that he’ll cause even more excitement in Philly once the season gets underway.