WASHINGTON -- As the ball left Albert Pujols' bat and flew over the left- centerfield fence at Nationals Park for his 500th career home run, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper barely moved.
Harper looked over his left shoulder and saw Pujols' shot land in the red porch seats for the milestone long ball.
It wasn't the first time that Pujols hit a memorable home run at Nationals Park, nor was it the first time that Harper was a witness to Pujols making history in D.C.
On Aug. 26, 2010, the former St. Louis Cardinals first baseman connected off Nats starter Jordan Zimmermann for his 400th career home run. Harper, who was still 21 months shy of his Major League debut, just happened to be at Nationals Park that day for his introductory press conference after signing his first professional contract ten days earlier.
As part of his first formal visit to Nationals Park, Harper's itinerary included a brief appearance at batting practice, a formal press conference with the local media, photo ops aplenty, and one inning visits with both the Nats' radio and television broadcast teams.
It was during Harper's fourth inning visit to the Nationals' radio booth that the then-17-year-old watched as Pujols, one of his favorite players growing up, connected on his 400th career home run.
Harper spent the inning with radio voices Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler with Pujols leading off the top of the fourth. Below is a transcript of how the at-bat unfolded, including Harper's on-air broadcasting debut.
Jageler: Top of the fourth inning, Nationals 3, Cardinals 1. We're a three- man booth here for this half inning with Bryce Harper joining us- the Nationals first-round pick… And Bryce, you were talking at your press conference, you had a chance to talk to Pujols today and it's not the first time. You've met him a few times over the last year or so.
Harper: Yeah Albert is a great guy, he's a really humble person and [cut off by the crack of the bat]
Jageler: Here's a swing and a long drive, deep right center, [Nyjer] Morgan going back, way back to the track and there it goes.
Harper: And it's gone.
Jageler: Into the seats in right-centerfield. Home run number 34 for the National League leader, Albert Pujols, and his second in five career at-bats against [Jordan] Zimmermann… I know he's your guy, as he's just hit his 400th career home run, Bryce you're a little witness to history with career home run number 400 for Albert Pujols.
Harper: Yeah, I told him before the game, I said ‘you're going to hit 400 tonight right?' And he said ‘I don't know, we'll see,' and I said ‘Yeah you will, definitely.'
Jageler: Well truth be told, you were talking to us five seconds before we went on the air saying that we might see history and sure enough, we did.
Nearly four years later, Nationals Park was again the site for some Albert Pujols history as the Angels first baseman hit his 499th and 500th career home runs in last night's 7-2 win over the Nationals.
"What's so special is to be able to hit 400 here and to be able to hit 500," Pujols told reporters after becoming just the 26th player in Major League to hit as many as 500 home runs. "That's something that's pretty special… I had a good feeling that it was going to be a special day. As players and athletes, you just have a feeling."
The 34-year-old Pujols became the third youngest player to hit 500 career home runs, while Harper, who doesn't turn 22 until October, already has 43 career long balls.
The Nationals and Angels close out their three-game series tonight at Nationals Park. Listen to the broadcast with Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler on WFED 1500AM at 7:05 p.m. Coverage begins with Nats On Deck at 6:30 p.m.
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