On Monday night, Bryce Harper etched his name in Home Run Derby history, rattling off nine home runs in a row to tie Kyle Schwarber in a legendary comeback.
With less than two minutes remaining in his round, Harper found himself exhausted and trailing Schwarber by nine homers. Harper's father also appeared fatigued as well.
But, as if a switch was turned on, Ron Harper started to bombard his son with fastballs catching the inside portion of the plate for the 25-year-old slugger. Harper tied Schwarber's 18-home run mark with 30 seconds left on the clock to finish the job.
Harper only needed two swings in his bonus time to finish off Schwarber with a home run to dead centerfield.
Harper's final-round performance will be remembered with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Ken Griffy Jr., and other powerful sluggers who blasted the cowhide deep into the night. Harper also joins Todd Frazier (2015) and Ryan Sandberg (1990) as the only players to win the derby in their home ballpark.
The last time Harper participated in the home run derby was 2013, his second season in the big leagues. Harper—with his dad pitching to him that year as well—made it all the way to the finals against Yoenis Cespedes in Citi Field. But Harper couldn't stave off Cespedes in his home ballpark.
Harper treated the fans at Nationals Park to a historic finish in what will be the last home run derby of his career. The Nationals' right fielder said on Monday that this derby would be his last and gave some pretty good reasons why he won't participate again.
"This will probably be the last time I do it," Harper told USA Today. "It’s in D.C., that’s the only reason I did it. It’s so tiring, people don’t understand that. Your forearms hurt. Your back hurts. Your oblique hurts. Everything.
"I mean, it’s a long time to keep swinging and swinging and swinging, especially when its 100 degrees outside. It’s a different animal. It’s something that you do it once, you win, you feel like you’re done. It’s definitely tiring."
The 25-year-old may also be wary of the slumps past derby champions have suffered in the second half of the season. Harper and the Nationals are 5.5 games out of first place in the NL East and will need all hands on deck in the second half to slow down the surprisingly hot Phillies and Braves.
Last season's champion Aaron Judge decided to join his new teammate Giancarlo Stanton on the sidelines this season. A very surprising move for baseball's most prolific home run hitters last season.