KANSAS CITY -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is considered a sports-history aficionado, and on Wednesday, he went to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City to be presented with the museum's Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston Legacy Awards for being the National League home run leader and NL MVP Award winner last season.
Harper was honored, of course, but he was more enthralled by the history of the Negro Leagues as he toured the building. He respects the players who came before him, and Harper said Negro Leagues players are one of the reasons he is in the game today.
"Baseball is a great game, it started a long, long time ago," Harper said.
In addition to marveling over the size Gibson's forearms, Harper also took note of how much fun the players in the Negro Leagues appeared to have while on the diamond.
"It's truly incredible what they went through and how they went about it," said Harper, who attended the museum on Wednesday with Nationals manager Dusty Baker and some of his teammates, including Gio Gonzalez. "They still loved the game every single day. They did everything they could to make it to that point. [The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum] is the place to see. I had a lot of fun. It's such a great site. I think a lot of people need to go out there and check it out and see what it's all about.
"Those guys had fun. I think a lot of people could learn a lot of things from them, how they went about it, how they played the game. They didn't take it to the level where they said, 'Oh, my God, the game is so serious.' They really had fun about it. They took it serious as well, but they truly had fun. They really enjoyed what they did. I think a lot of people can learn from them."
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.