$330 million, even spread over 13 years, is a lot of dough. That’s what the Phillies committed to Bryce Harper last week. Harper was officially introduced in his new uniform on Saturday. Already, the Phillies are making progress on earning that money back.
Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, prior to the Harper announcement, the Phillies had sold about 200,000 more tickets the same time last year. After the Harper announcement, the Phillies sold about 100,000 tickets. NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury followed up, adding that the Phillies an additional 80,000 tickets on Saturday. Those tickets will come with ancillary revenues, of course, as almost all of those fans will spend even more money at the ballpark for parking, merchandise at the team store, as well as food and drinks from concession stands. They may even buy more tickets.
Fanatics, an online retailer that sells sports apparel, announced on Sunday that Harper’s Phillies jersey is the no. 1 selling jersey “of all-time in any sport for any player during the first 24 hours of a launch.” Harper’s Phillies jerseys are going for $119.99 on the club’s official website, so one can imagine the kind of revenues that are coming in right now.
For all the consternation about the length and total value of the Harper contract, its starting off on quite the right foot for the Phillies and Harper. It turns out that spending money on free agents can be a good thing.
Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump on Monday. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor to “individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Babe Ruth was posthumously awarded the medal last year. Yogi Berra got it posthumously in 2015, and Willie Mays and Vin Scully were also awarded it the same year.
Trump and Rivera are close. Rivera, who is from Panama, has been criticized for his relationship with Trump. Defending that relationship, Rivera said on Fox & Friends in July, “Mr. President Trump to me, he was a friend of mine before he became president. So, because he’s president I will turn my back on him? No. I respect him. I respect what he does and I believe he’s doing the best for the United States of America.”
Rivera, 49, served on Trump’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission in 2017. In 2018, Rivera co-chaired Trump’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. Rivera also co-hosted a fundraiser dinner for the America First Action PAC, which supports Trump and was also hosted by Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle.
This past January, Rivera became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously. He is the all-time leader in saves with 652 as well as adjusted ERA (also known as ERA+) at 205. He retired with a 2.21 ERA and 1,173 strikeouts across 1,283 2/3 innings, spanning 19 seasons with the Yankees.