It was announced yesterday that Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper was named a 2021 Musial Award winner by the St. Louis Sports Commission.
The Musial Awards presented by Maryville University "celebrate the year’s greatest moments of sportsmanship and those in sports who embody class and character," according to their website.
The event is named in honor of St. Louis Cardinals legend Stan Musial, who throughout his 22 seasons in baseball, exemplified sportsmanship both on the field and in the community.
The Stan Musial Award for Extraordinary Character "annually recognizes an individual who demonstrates remarkable poise, perseverance, and overall sportsmanship."
The Commission chose to recognize Harper after his handling of the incident in late-April in St. Louis in which he was struck in the face by a 97-mph fastball from Cardinals reliever Génesis Cabrera.
It was a moment that made all fans watching hold their breath. Harper was miraculously okay despite having to leave the game. The next day, then-Cardinals manager Mike Shildt reached out to Harper, and in turn, Harper asked about Cabrera.
Harper was concerned for Cabrera’s well-being and wanted to reassure him that he knew the pitch was unintentional. The Commission found it to be a "tremendous show of empathy and sportsmanship." Harper's choosing to be sympathetic and compassionate instead of angry or upset ultimately diffused what could have been a tense situation between the two teams.
“Whoever’s a fan of Bryce Harper, whoever has children that are fans of Bryce Harper, support that guy," Shildt said. "Because what he sent over in a message today was completely a class act.”
Harper said of being named a honoree for the award, “To be seen in the same light as [Musial], I’m definitely humbled. I'm definitely appreciative to be part of that. I hope I can pay it forward to anyone else in those situations. I had amazing parents who tried to teach me the right ways and I’m going to try to do that with my kids as well: Be as kind as possible, no matter the situation.”
The show will air on Christmas Day on CBS at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT.
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