Young Phillies fan given helmet after Harper flips on ump

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Saturday, September 30, 2023
Young fan describes the scuffle to get Bryce Harper's helmet
10-year-old boy describes the scuffle to get Bryce Harper's helmet at Phillies game

PHILADELPHIA --Bryce Harper flipped out on the third-base umpire and then flipped his maroon Phillies helmet over the protective netting and into the stands.

This was no ordinary souvenir like a foul ball. Hayden Dorfman, a 10-year-old Phillies fan from Voorhees, New Jersey, had a keepsake he could wear home.

Dorfman landed the lucky helmet after a few adults clutched it in a scrum in the aisle Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park. Cooler heads prevailed and -- at the urging of the boy's father, Aaron -- the helmet ended up with a kid.

Hayden Dorfman, 10, of Voorhees, N.J., holds up Bryce Harper's autographed helmet during a baseball game on Sept. 28, 2023.
(AP Photo/Daniel Gelston)

The Dorfmans attend about six Phillies games a year and sit just a few rows behind the Phillies dugout in section 117.

The fireworks started when Harper was ejected by third-base umpire Angel Hernandez on a checked strike three. Harper seemingly held his swing on a full count against Pirates starter Luis L. Ortiz and started to take off his protective gear when Hernández called him out.

Harper whipped off his batting helmet and went off on Hernandez as he walked down the baseline. Harper pointed his finger in Hernandez's face and had to be separated from him by manager Rob Thomson.

"Angel in the middle of something again," Harper said after the Phillies fell to the Pirates 3-2. "It's just every year. It's the same story, same thing."

Harper, who has been ejected four times this season, said he expects to get a letter and a fine from Major League Baseball.

"It's just not right," he said. "It's just the reaction of, I should be on first base. I'm grinding as hard as I can in the batter's box. These games, everyone talks about, 'Oh, they don't mean that much.' But they do. For each stat, each game, winning games, a winning mentality, everything. All these at-bats matter. We don't play this game forever."

Harper said Hernandez told him "if I saw the replay that I would know that I was wrong."

Did he see the replay?

"I didn't need to see the replay," Harper said.

After Harper got done sounding off on Hernandez during the game, he tossed his helmet into the stands to a roaring ovation from Phillies fans before he went into the dugout.

Let Hayden take it from here.

"So! He threw it over and then there's like a bunch of dads like diving in for it," he said. "I knew I wouldn't get it. But I went in to just see what would happen. It looked like he had a pretty good grip on in it, so I kind of went in. Then [my dad] started the chant, 'Give it to the kid!' And then that worked.

"And then, like a while later, we went to the bathroom and got a text: Come back because Bryce Harper wants to sign it. I ran back and gave the helmet to like five security people."

Phillies staff retrieved the helmet from the youngest Dorfman and later returned it signed by Harper with a No. 3 and Philly Philly! inscription. Harper also signed the helmet Luke 1:37, a Bible verse that says, "For with God nothing shall be impossible."

Not on this night.

"After the fact, I was walking off, I wasn't too upset anymore," Harper said. "I kind of got all of it out. I just threw my helmet in the stands because I didn't need it anymore. Got the kid, ending up signing it for him and he was super happy. It was good."

Aaron Dorfman said three men "larger than I am" grabbed onto the helmet after Harper tossed it into the stands. So he decided to calm the situation by coming up with the solution that a child should have Harper's helmet.

"Ten seconds later it was on his head," Dorfman said.

With the Phillies set to host playoff games next week, Harper joked he wasn't worried about getting a new helmet.

"I can get new ones," the $330 million slugger quipped.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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