Bryce Harper has customized his cleats over the last few seasons to celebrate Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and the Fourth of July. He designed a pair for Jackie Robinson Day, opening day, and the All-Star Game.
If there’s something to celebrate, Harper will make sure his signature Under Armour cleats are ready. But when he won the National League’s MVP Award last week, someone else dressed up the cleats.
Shortly after being named MVP, Harper was surprised at his home in Las Vegas with a pair of cleats customized by members of a Camden youth baseball team.
During his first season with the Phillies, Harper bought the North Camden Pirates equipment and cleats after $15,000 worth of equipment — including refrigerators, coolers, and a deep fryer — had been stolen in June 2019 from their snack stand.
Without the snack stand, the North Camden Little League worried that it would be unable to raise money to keep registration fees low. An anonymous donor pledged $15,000, Under Armour and Dick’s Sporting Goods donated $10,000, and Harper came through that August with a shopping spree. The league kept rolling.
Last week, the kids were able to say thanks.
“We really wanted to do something extra special for Bryce to show him we appreciate what he’s done for us,” said 12-year-old Ryan Skinner. “He’s such an amazing ballplayer and really deserved the MVP Award.”
Eight players from the 2019 team helped design the cleats, which include the Phillie Phanatic and “MV3,” which was the campaign slogan for Harper’s MVP case. Under Armour and Dick’s each donated an additional $5,000 to the league to cover uniforms, equipment, and more.
“This was a really sweet surprise and such a cool way to reconnect with the young North Camden athletes,” Harper said. “This game can present both struggles and triumphs, which they are all too familiar with. I’ll think of them every time I wear these cleats — they’re a representation of their hard work.
“To be the kind of player these kids look up to really means the world to me. I mean it when I say that I play for them. The fact that they thought of me during this moment is truly special.”