Phillies' Bryce Harper hopes MLB allows players in Olympics

ByDavid Schoenfield ESPN logo
Monday, October 16, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- The International Olympic Committee announced Monday that baseball and softball will be returning to the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles -- and Philadelphia Phillies starBryce Harper said he would love to play and hopes Major League Baseball allows its players to participate.

"My wife actually had a hair appointment this morning and she texted me 'Happy Birthday' with that," Harper said prior to Game 1 of the NLCS on Monday, which happens to fall on his 31st birthday. "She said, 'Hey, I guess one of your birthday wishes forever got [granted].' I'm going to be old at that point, so I don't know if they're going to want me on the team, but it's always a dream. I think it's everyone's dream to be in the Olympics, especially coming here."

Baseball was labeled an exhibition sport at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and a demonstration sport at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, then had an official run from 1992 through 2008. Professional players were first allowed in 2000, but MLB refused to release its players, so minor leaguers filled the U.S. rosters. The IOC dropped baseball from the program after 2008, but it returned when Tokyo hosted the 2020 Olympics (held in 2021).

Nippon Professional Baseball paused its season and allowed its best professionals to compete, but the U.S. roster again included minor leaguers.

Harper said he hopes MLB and its owners let major leaguers play in 2028.

"You talk about growing the game and that's the way you grow it to the highest peak, you have guys who are playing in the league take that break, just like in the NHL, and see what happens," he said. "I think it would be really cool and a lot of fun.

"I don't know if they'll ever go for it, but I would love to put 'USA' on my chest and represent it at the highest level. I know the WBC, and everyone loves that and it's great for the game, but it's not the Olympics."

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