MLB playoffs: The summer the circus (aka Bryce Harper) came to Oklahoma City
Westmoore athletic director John Burruss has an index card inscribed “The summer the circus came to town.”
His intent is to have that be part of a shadow box commemorating the 2009 summer when baseball phenom Bryce Harper spent a week playing for the Westmoore baseball team.
The “circus” moniker is the most appropriate way to describe that week.
With Harper preparing for his postseason debut as a rookie with the Washington Nationals against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday in the Division Series, his teammates and coaches from that summer can reflect on just what they witnessed.
It started out as a relatively normal summer for the Westmoore baseball team.
Then word started spreading of a 16-year-old Harper planning on playing for two weeks with the team. Harper was good friends with Westmoore baseball player Taylor Tipps and had played previously in Oklahoma during the summer.
“I really didn't know who he was, and my dad looked up some YouTube videos and showed me,” said Logan Glasgow, now a student at Central Oklahoma after playing two seasons at Northern Oklahoma College in Enid. “Then I started watching the videos and I thought it was pretty exciting. I got really excited to play with him.”
The excitement quickly spread past the team when Sports Illustrated put Harper on their cover with a headline dubbing him “The Chosen One.”
Fans and media from all over flocked to the games, leaving many players in awe of the attention. Even opposing coaches wanted to see the future No. 1 overall draft pick.
“We had a situation ... where I've only got four kids in my dugout that are subs,” said Sean Brooks, the Westmoore summer league coach at the time. “But I've got four of our coaches, I've got five or six coaches from different teams that are just there hanging out … I've got 30 guys in my dugout and only four of them are players.”
Westmoore had to bring in extra stands and clear areas for more fans to stand during the game. Suddenly, games that might have 20 fans in attendance had hundreds.
And Harper delivered. He had four hits in his debut, including two home runs. The homers in his debut were just a sign of things to come.