Bryce Harper began the 2016 season with 97 career homers, so we knew he was close to hitting the century mark, a round number of 100 that will likely be just one of many milestones to look back on when his career is over.
And it didn't take long for Harper to get No. 98 and No. 99, which he captured in just three games. His 98th was in his first at-bat of the season on Opening Day.
To go from 99 to 100, though, took a full week, which for Harper these days seems like an eternity between homers. On Thursday at Nationals Park, No. 100 finally came, and it sure didn't disappoint.
Harper decimated a 1-0 fastball from Julio Teheran high over the fence in right field in the bottom of the third on Thursday. It wasn't just a homer, it was the first grand slam of his career.
And it wasn't just a long flyball, this one pelted off the LED facade in right field, busting a scoreboard panel with forceful impact.
"Perfect," Harper joked when he heard about the damage.
Harper has shown a tendency to produce classic moments already at just 23 years old and this one will certainly go down as one of his most memorable.
"You look at every sport. Guys that are considered the great ones – Michael Jordan, [Wayne] Gretzky, Jim Brown, Joe Montana – they have a flair for the dramatic," manager Dusty Baker said. "I told him when he hit that home run: ‘Man, you’ve got a flair for the dramatic.’ You hit a grand slam on your 100th career home run. How many people have done that?"
It turns out that feat isn't all that rare, actually. Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, amazingly, did the exact same thing the day before. But it wasn't his first grand slam. That Harper can claim.
As if all of this wasn't already so fun to describe and analyze, Harper's 100th homer also came on his mother Sheri's birthday.
"It was my mom's birthday today, so being able to hit her a homer today was definitely huge," Harper said.
And the home run ball was returned to Harper by way of a young girl, who caught it after it bounced off the scoreboard. Harper traded her a bat and took some photos with her for the ball, which sat in his locker after the game enclosed in glass.
The home run and all the circumstances that surrounded it made for a special day at Nationals Park and Harper was thankful to share the accomplishment with his fans. He obliged for a curtain call moments after the third-inning bomb, hopping to the top step of the dugout with his fist pumping in the air.
Harper understands the significance of getting to 100, but also downplayed the feat in a way fitting for a player who has the potential to someday end up an all-time great.
"I think if you're worried about 100, then you're not going to get higher than that. Not to take it for granted, I'm definitely excited, but I'm looking for many more to come," he said.
Harper became the eighth-youngest player in MLB history to reach No. 100, getting there faster than many Hall of Famers including Hank Aaron, so he's well on his way.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 14, 2016