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The fan was a South Jersey native who first informed Kapler of Bryce Harper's signing.

By Alaa Abdeldaiem
March 15, 2019

Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler revealed on Friday that one of the fans who first told him that Bryce Harper had signed died in Sunday's Ethiopian Airlines crash.

In a post shared to his Twitter, Kapler paid tribute to Matt Vecere, a 43-year-old South Jersey native who relayed to him the news of Harper's signing during a spring training game in Clearwater, Florida, last month.

"I know his name because two of his friends reached out to me. They told me how Matt shouted out to me ‘bat him third and he’ll give you 90 runs,'" Kapler wrote. "They reached out because Matt was one of the 157 people killed on board Ethiopian Airlines 302." 

According to Kapler, Vecere was traveling to Kenya for the United Nations Environment Assembly when the plane crashed.

“To honor Matt, I’m asking that you consider doing something for a cause Matt cared about," Kapler said. "His mother described those as ‘the environment, civil rights, social and environmental justice, and advocating for those less fortunate.'

"Baseball brings people together, but Matt strove for bigger causes than what we do every day," Kapler continued. "As he loved the Phillies, I hope the community can return that love.”

Vecere was one of eight Americans killed on the flight.

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