Phillies

Phillies' Bryce Harper, Boras Marketing partner with huge gaming rep for Fortnite streaming

Phillies' Bryce Harper, Boras Marketing partner with huge gaming rep for Fortnite streaming

Phillies megastar Bryce Harper has been filling his unexpected free time, like many across the country, by playing video games.

With baseball on pause, Harper has been streaming himself playing Fortnite on Twitch almost daily during May, and it seems the 27-year-old sees a future in the world of gaming - so much so that he's making it a part of his business world.

Harper has reportedly inked a joint deal with his agent Scott Boras's Boras Marketing, and Loaded, one of the top gaming management companies, to "build out [Harper's] gaming presence", according to Sports Business Daily's Adam Stern.

It's an extremely interesting move from a forward-thinking star, and shows Harper has his sights set not just on the present but the future of sports.

Loaded represents some of the biggest crossover names in gaming, including Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, the biggest name in Fortnite streaming and one of the world's most popular mainstream esports athletes, and Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek, best known for his lengthy CS:GO career.

Harper has racked up 14,000 followers on Twitch since his first stream on May 1, streaming 12 times in an 18-day span.

"Baseball will always be my number one priority," Harper said in a release Tuesday, "but gaming gives me a fun competitive outlet to uniquely connect with friends, peers and fans.  This partnership will help further fuel my passion for gaming, allowing for opportunities to grow my community and streaming presence."

Loaded co-founder and SVP of talent Brandon Freytag called Harper a "smart dude" looking to broaden his audience, per the Esports Observer

In baseball, he’s probably captured a good portion of the enthusiasts, whereas in the gaming world, there’s not a lot of people that know Bryce especially if they don’t watch baseball. Our playbook is to initially get him set up and comfortable with streaming [...] and certainly working with Boras on endemic sponsorships within the tech world.

Unless something changes dramatically, Harper isn't ever going to be one of the world's best esports athletes in the way that he is one of the best baseball players. Former Eagles running back Jay Ajayi showed us earlier this year that the transition from "pro athlete who games" to "pro esports athlete" can be brutal.

But Harper partnering with Loaded means he's taking gaming more seriously than just a hobby, and sees the value in acknowledging its expanding place in the pro sports landscape.

Between Harper and Sixers star Ben Simmons, who regularly streams Call of Duty: Warzone - and previously PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - on Twitch and has a tight relationship with popular esports organization FaZe Clan, Philly is suddenly home to a pair of potential crossover pro sports-esports stars.

Welcome to 2020.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

The OG Phillie Phanatic wants Major League Baseball to lighten up

The OG Phillie Phanatic wants Major League Baseball to lighten up

Dave Raymond, the OG Phillie Phanatic, was alarmed when he read the news earlier this week.

No Mascots!

Has Major League Baseball lost its mind?

Or worse, its sense of humor?

Don’t misunderstand, Raymond, the man who breathed life into that big ball of green fur from the time it debuted in 1978 until 1993, is all for ridding the world of this nasty coronavirus beast. He’s all for social distancing, frequent handwashing and everything else that goes with protecting folks from getting sick. He knows how serious this thing is.

And that’s why he’s hoping that MLB won’t follow through on its plan to ban mascots from games when and if the sport comes back with a proposed 82-game schedule in July.

“I understand that only essential personnel can physically be at the games,” Raymond said Friday. “But I would argue that in these serious times mascots are more essential than ever.”

After shedding the Phanatic’s fur and handing the keys to the ATV to the equally brilliant Tom Burgoyne 26 years ago, Raymond dedicated his professional life to the concept of fun. It’s serious business. Raymond has owned and operated companies that help professional teams and college sports programs develop mascots/brands. He has trained mascots and helped found a mascot Hall of Fame. His current focus is motivational speaking. Everything is centered around the Power of Fun — which just so happens to be the title of his book — and how it can make a difference in people’s lives.

In these trying times when lives have been lost, when people have gotten sick and when the world has wrapped a mask around its face and gone into quarantine, Raymond is preaching louder than ever about the importance of a little fun and the respite it can offer in difficult times.

“It’s a scientific fact that laughing helps a person emotionally and physically,” he said.

That’s why he believes mascots need to have their place in baseball’s return.

“Mascots are a reflection of the fans’ heart and soul and part of the reason fans get emotionally connected to their teams,” he said. “During this time, we need the connection they provide more than ever. I understand that fans can’t be in the stadiums, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still engage them through mascots and character brands. Baseball needs to be creative and carve out space for entertainment.”

Raymond proposes that mascots be featured on television broadcasts when the game returns. It would be kind of funny to see a camera pan over to the Phanatic sitting all alone in section 305. Maybe even have Bobby Vinton’s Mr. Lonely play in the background.

If the Phanatic absolutely, positively cannot be in the ballpark, then he could be featured through technology and social media. Raymond proposed live streaming the Phanatic, wherever he might be, watching the game. Run it across social media platforms and have fans follow along. Raymond also proposed prerecording videos that could feature fans playing catch with the final throw landing in the Phanatic’s glove as he stands on the field. Another idea: Replace the Phanatic’s middle-of-the-fifth-inning dance skit with a live Zoom call on Phanavision and let fans log in. He’d like to see this stuff in every major league city.

“I understand it’s safety first, but there’s still room to lighten things up a little,” Raymond said.

Raymond is sharing this message with mascots who have been sidelined all over the country, from the major leagues to the minor leagues to the colleges. He has personally tutored many of them. They are his friends. Some have been furloughed from their jobs.

“It’s really devastating,” he said.

On Tuesday, Raymond will host a Zoom webinar for mascots and officials from teams, leagues and colleges that he has worked with over the years. It’s titled What The Heck Should My Mascot Do Now?

For Dave Raymond, the answer is simple:

Follow the rules, but by all means, be creative, embrace technology and mascot on.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies

Phillies Talk podcast: Locations, opponents, details on Spring Training II

phillies_talk.jpeg
NBCSP

Phillies Talk podcast: Locations, opponents, details on Spring Training II

On today's Phillies Talk podcast, Jim Salisbury and I discussed what Spring Training II could look like amid Jim's report that the Phillies will likely get to stay home and train in South Philadelphia.

• Benefits of having camp at home.

• Who could Phillies play in Spring Training II?

• What happens to the minor-leaguers? Will there even be a minor-league season?

• Just how big could regular-season rosters get?

• Spencer Howard will likely put pressure on Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies