KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Bryce Harper remembered back to Oct. 27, when 414 fans were at Scottsdale Stadium to watch his Scorpions play the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League.
Down 7-5, Bryce Harper vowed to teammate Brandon Crawford to hit a game-winning home run.
“I’ll drop a bomb and walk off the field, tell them we own this place,” Harper said. “I promise you I’m going to hit a jack right here. I swear on everything.”
“Yeah, OK,” Mike Trout told him in disbelief.
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Trout led off with a single, a teammate got another hit for Scottsdale with one out and Harper followed with a homer to right-center off Jeff Inman.
“Everybody ran inside the clubhouse,” Harper said. “It was a great moment.”
Still tied together, baseball’s youthful dynamic duo will be watched by millions tonight when the All-Star Game returns to Kauffman Stadium for the first time since 1973.
Harper, 19, is the youngest position player in All-Star history and a key part of the Washington Nationals’ emergence as a first-place team.
Trout, a year older, is leading the American League in hitting (.341) and helping the Los Angeles Angels turn around their season after a sloppy start.
Coincidentally, both came up to the majors leagues on April 28, Harper for his debut and Trout for his return following a pair of stints last year.
They are among a record five rookie All-Stars, joined by Texas pitcher Yu Darvish, Oakland closer Ryan Cook and Arizona pitcher Wade Miley.
In a room full of baseball’s best, even the veterans are taking notice of Harper and Trout.
“Speed. Power. Excitement. Youth. Energy,” Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson said. “If they are able to stay healthy, they can completely transform the game as they get, five, 10, 15 years of big league time.”
Trout was on a flight from Salt Lake City to Cleveland when he saw on Twitter that Harper was being called up the same day.
Trout hadn’t let many people know he was joining the big league team.
“Knowing he was getting called up that same day was pretty funny,” Trout said.
A son of former Minnesota minor league infielder Jeff Trout, Mike was taken by the Angels with the 25th pick on the first round of the 2009 amateur draft. He understands why he lasted so late in the first round.
“A lot of risk. East Coast kid. Didn’t play all year,” he said. “You look at the teams in Florida and California, they’ve got perfect weather all year. They can play all year.”
Harper had the greater renown, on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was 16 with the headline “CHOSEN ONE.”
Harper has a .282 batting average with eight homers and 25 RBI in 63 games. The only younger All-Stars were Bob Feller in 1938 and Dwight Gooden in 1984.
“So much pressure — no, I’m just kidding,” Harper said, joshing with the media.
All-Star Game starting lineups
AT KAUFFMAN STADIUM, KANSAS CITY, MO.
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado, DH
Melky Cabrera, San Francisco, CF
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee, LF
Joey Votto, Cincinnati, 1B
Carlos Beltran, St. Louis, RF
Buster Posey, San Francisco, C
Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco, 3B
Dan Uggla, Atlanta, 2B
Rafael Furcal, St. Louis, SS
Matt Cain, San Francisco, P
Derek Jeter, N.Y. Yankees, SS
Robinson Cano, N.Y. Yankees, 2B
Josh Hamilton, Texas, LF
Jose Bautista, Toronto, RF
Prince Fielder, Detroit, 1B
Adrian Beltre, Texas, 3B
David Ortiz, Boston, DH
Mike Napoli, Texas, C
Curtis Granderson, N.Y. Yankees, CF
Justin Verlander, Detroit, P