Bryce Harper is just 23 years old, but his resume is already stacked: National League Rookie of the Year, three All-Star appearances, the best hair in the bigs – you don’t even need to check his references to know he’s legit. And after a stellar season in which he dominated at the dish, he was the unanimous choice for NL MVP, becoming youngest player to ever win the award in a clean sweep.
Now, he’s adding another title to that already crowded CV: Brand ambassador for New Era, the official cap of Major League Baseball. Harper joins a host of former MVPs (like Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey) and a lineup of MLB’s young stars (like Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Kyle Schwarber) on the New Era team, and late last week, he sat down for his official photo shoot – but not before he spoke to Rolling Stone about everything he’s accomplished to date. And the unfinished business he’s still got to take care of with the Washington Nationals.
Make no mistake about it; though Harper soared in 2015, the Nationals sunk. But, with a new manager at the helm and MLB postseason hero Daniel Murphy in the lineup, he’s confident that this is the year Washington lives up to the preseason hype – and hoists the first World Series flag in the nation’s capital in nearly 100 years. Here’s what Harper had to say about his offseason training regimen, the tremendous expectations heaped upon him and why they should never remake The Mighty Ducks.
You’re doing a shoot for the New Era campaign today. Do you have any go-to modeling poses? Like, do you break out the Blue Steel?
Not really. I just try to do the best I can, be myself, smile. That’s important. But there’s no real secret or anything like that. I had worked with New Era on their All-Star Game campaign, with Nina Agdal, so I’ve done a bit of modeling, if you’d call it that. Honestly, it’s great to be a brand ambassador for New Era, because I’ve grow up with them. Ever since I was 5 or 6 years old, I was wearing snapbacks or beanies, and it was always New Era or nothing else.
Coming off a season like you had, do you dare make any changes to your offseason routine?
I’ve been lying low, trying to enjoy the time off, because during the season it’s “Go Go Go” all the time, and that starts to get tough. So I’ve traveled a little bit, spent some time with my friends and family, but now it’s back to working out, getting on my routine. I started hitting on January 1 – I’ve honestly had the same approach my whole life; I didn’t change anything heading into last season, it was just that I was able to stay healthy.
What do you listen to while you’re working out?
I listen to hip-hop usually, a lot of intense stuff – Biggie, Eminem. Before games I’ll listen to some mellow stuff, Frank Sinatra, B.B. King, a little bit of country maybe. Sam Hunt or Luke Bryan. Usually, it’s very diverse in the clubhouse. You’ll get Latin music, hip-hop, rock, reggae, country. The starting pitcher normally picks the music for the day – but sometimes you have to shut it off. I can remember as a kid, driving to California with my dad, and we’d listen to Alan Jackson, “Pop a Top,” “Right in the Palm of Your Hand.” My mom loved music from the Seventies – my dad hated the Seventies – so I listened to a lot of different stuff growing up. My sister was really into the Killers. I remember seeing Justin Timberlake when I was younger – I think that was in Los Angeles – and he was great. I just really love music.
Speaking of, I will say that when it comes to at-bat music, you go for some deep cuts – like, you may be the only major leaguer who walks up to Moby’s “Flower.”
Yeah, Moby, that’s always my first song. Frank Sinatra, Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel,” “American Oxygen” by Rihanna – that’s an incredible song, I had to throw that in there. I use Shazam, so I have a list of songs I’d like to maybe use this coming season. Moby will definitely still be in there; I’ll never change Moby. Maybe I’ll use something like Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” – you know, like a home run.
I saw that you got a Hoverboard for Christmas – have you seen all the videos of people falling off theirs?
No! I haven’t fallen off mine yet, and hopefully I never will. I have to say, the best thing I got for Christmas was the Mighty Ducks’ “Conway” jersey. My brother got me that.
I was going to ask you about that! It seems like every single movie franchise is getting rebooted these days – would you like to see a Mighty Ducks remake?
No, because it wouldn’t be that good! They should just leave it as is – respect the original Mighty Ducks trilogy. Go pick it up on VHS and watch it. The same goes with all the baseball movies that came out when I grew up – Major League, Angels in the Outfield, The Sandlot. I think they actually remade The Sandlot and everyone hated it. You can never have another Squints Palledorous.
What did you think of Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
I haven’t seen it. I haven’t seen any of the Star Wars movies, and my brother is going to kill me, so I gotta get into ’em. I’ve heard this new one is good for people who haven’t seen any of the original films.
You made headlines when you dyed your hair silver. People kind of freaked out, but it looked cool! How come you got rid of it?
My hair grows fast, so I cut it and it was gone. My sister is a beautician, and I wanted to do something a little different, so she did it for me. I wanted to wait until after the season, so it wouldn’t be a distraction or something, and I just went platinum white – that’s what the color is called. It killed my hair; like, I couldn’t even run my fingers through it. It was awful – I definitely have a newfound respect for anyone who bleaches their hair like that. It’s very impressive.
Speaking of impressive, have you had a chance to reflect on everything you accomplished last season? It must be bittersweet, because while you won the MVP, the Nationals didn’t live up to expectations.
Truly, it’s in the past. We weren’t where we wanted to be at the end of the season, and you’ve gotta tip your cap to the teams that beat you. But then, you gotta start thinking about next year. This is a great organization, and they’ve brought in Dusty Baker, Davey Lopes, Daniel Murphy. I can’t wait to get out there. I don’t set goals, I just go out there and play and obviously that’s what I’m going to do this season. You want to win a World Series at the beginning of the day, and at the end. If we all pull on that rope, I think we can do it.