Since he got to the Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper has drawn comparisons to Pete Rose because of his old-school brand of hustle. At just 19 years old, Harper is becoming a national phenomenon.
I spoke to Harold Reynolds as he was getting ready for Monday's MLB draft coverage. The MLB Network analyst talked about Harper and another 19-year-old star, Ken Griffey Jr., who Reynolds played with in Seattle.
Does Harper remind you of Rose?
Reynolds » "Yes, absolutely. He runs out every ground ball, he makes singles into doubles and he does not have an off switch. Just like Pete, he loves baseball and because at 19 he actually makes other players on the Nationals better because his enthusiasm is very infectious. He makes everyone in that dugout play as hard as he does and that is a good thing for the team."
What was it like to have a 19-year-old on your team?
"It was like having your little brother on the team. He would get to the park at 2 p.m. and want to take batting practice. He had that smile and would turn his hat backwards and hit the ball 450 feet in batting practice. He was at 19 one of the best players on our team, and he was mentored by guys on the team because he loved the game and respected ever person on the team. But he was also a kid, so we would play video games and we would order room service and watch movies just like brothers do."
What makes guys like Harper and Griffey special?
Reynolds » "They are both old souls who play the game like they are much older than 19. I call Bryce 'the Justin Bieber of baseball' because he is an internet sensation. Every kid playing baseball today follows his every move. His hustle and love for playing the game right has the chance to influence a generation of kids just like Rose did for my generation. Fans in Washington and around baseball have to love the way this kid plays. He is just great for baseball."
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!