WASHINGTON D.C. -- Baseball fans couldn't have asked for a more thrilling Home Run Derby Monday night as Nationals outfielder and home run masher Bryce Harper took home the home run king crown.
Derby outlasted other sluggers like Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy and Kyle Schwarber.
He hit 13 home runs in the first round to beat Freeman while wearing a D.C. headband. He slugged another 13 to outlast Muncy. The task was even more daunting in the final round. He went into the frame down 18 home runs to Schwarber.
Things looked dire until the final minute and a half of the round when Harper went on a homer streak that saw him rack up nine home runs to tie the Cubs slugger. His 18 home runs triggered a bonus 30 seconds of slugging. The final home run landed past the center field wall where Harper will start tomorrow night in the All-Star Game.
All the while-- fans were screaming their heads off, Harper's father was tossing him the perfect pitches and he was getting encouragement from teammates and former teammates like Max Scherzer, Sean Doolittle and Wilson Ramos.
Many fans who came out for the competition said it was what they wanted to see.
"We just want to see Bryce Harper do good," said Rachel Barold, a fifth grader who showed up early. She and her mom were armed with a plan to stay hydrated and enjoy her favorite sport. "I really like baseball and it’s kind the only sport I can follow because it’s all about math and I love math."