Phenom: The Making of Bryce Harper (Paperback)
"The remarkable story of Bryce Harper's unforgettable ride from Morse Stadium to the top of the baseball draft" (Jayson Stark, ESPN.com) updated from the hardcover edition (The Last Natural) to include his Rookie of the Year season!
Sporting a fresh cover and a bonus chapter that covers Harper's award-winning rookie season with the Washington Nationals, this expanded edition of Phenom (originally published as The Last Natural) gives fans an all-access pass to baseball's newest rising star.
Before he famously became a Major League All-Star as a teenager, Harper already had dominated high school competition like Mickey Mantle on the playground and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which dubbed him the "most exciting prodigy since LeBron James." Seeking greater tests as a hitter, the precocious star got his GED after his sophomore year and enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada, where he would face future pro pitchers in a difficult wooden-bat league. Sportswriter Rob Miech was "embedded" with the team—in the dugout and locker room and on team buses and in motel rooms—to provide a warts-and-all account of a boy among men playing like a man among boys. Amid fascinating personal stories including the dynamics between a veteran coach and Harper's overprotective father, the jealousies of teammates and opponents, and the sudden descent of press armies on a tiny college field, the author chronicles a season-long experiment that culminates in Harper leading the Coyotes to the Junior College World Series and signing a $9.9 million contract negotiated by notorious agent Scott Boras.
“From the best seat in the house, a sportswriter chronicles the final amateur season of perhaps the most hyped baseball prospect of all time. Ever since LeBron James took the basketball world by storm in 2003, other sports have sought their own phenoms, individuals possessed of the talent and charisma to shatter statistical records while drawing in casual fans. Enter Bryce Harper, a baseball-mashing savant who, in order to circumvent MLB draft rules that prohibit a player being drafted until the age of 18 or one year after graduating from high school, earned his GED after his sophomore year and enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada in order to hone his skills with a wooden bat and make himself eligible for the draft a year early. Recognizing the uniqueness of the situation, CSN coach Tim Chambers granted Miech full access to the team's dugout and locker room. From that unique vantage point, the author chronicles Harper's struggle to adjust to the college game, where his immaturity and fiery competitiveness got him ejected from two games, but where his incredible hitting prowess enabled him to crush 31 home runs, obliterating the previous team record of 12. Miech pays particular attention to Harper's efforts to balance his desire to fit in with his older teammates with his steadfast dedication to his Mormon beliefs. Though CSN's season ended short of a championship ring, Harper would win the Golden Spikes award, given annually to the nation's top amateur, and be selected first overall by the Washington Nationals in the 2010 draft.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Veteran sportswriter Miech traveled with the college team for the entire 2010 season, and he captures Harper's maturation by fire and growing celebrity.” —Publishers Weekly
“Like Bryce Harper, Rob Miech has all the tools, and they are on display in The Last Natural, a compelling, behind-the-scenes account of the making of a phenom.” —George Dohrmann, Pulitzer Prize-winning Senior Writer, Sports Illustrated
“In The Last Natural, Rob Miech gets the last unfettered access to baseball's next great star, Bryce Harper, before he turns pro, before he can vote, before the handlers and hangers-on and hero-worship descend. The result is a fascinating eyewitness account, a baseball version of the Beatles in Hamburg circa 1961, just before the klieg lights get switched on.” —Steve Rushin, Sports Illustrated
“The Last Natural is a remarkable story of Bryce Harper's action-packed junior-college adventure, told from the vantage point of a tremendous reporter and writer who was fortunate enough to go along on Harper's unforgettable ride from Morse Stadium to the top of the baseball draft.” —Jayson Stark, ESPN.com senior baseball writer
“Rob Miech rides the bench and the buses to craft a stirring story of a young man, an extraordinary dream and an amazing baseball season. Through an insider's access and a reporter's eye, Miech lays back the scouting reports to capture the real Bryce Harper--the son, the brother, the teammate and the phenom. Touching and edgy, The Last Natural captures the essence of a hard game made easy by a rare player.” —Tim Brown, MLB writer, Yahoo! Sports
“The Last Natural is a fascinating tale of risk, struggle, ambition and triumph. The LeBron James of baseball is brought to life, and all his talents and warts are expertly exposed by an exceptional storyteller. Miech has done what Harper is known for--hitting a spectacular home run. Terrific stuff.” —Ed Graney, Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist