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Harry Reid Meets Up With New Nationals Outfielder

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
From left, columnist and baseball fan George Will, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, a native of Nevada, caught up at Nationals Park today before a game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met up with fellow Nevadan Bryce Harper at Nationals Park today.

Arriving two hours before the opening pitch of a game against the division rival Philadelphia Phillies, the Nevada Democrat chatted with Nationals manager Davey Johnson and political columnist George Will.

“The Senator is a big baseball fan,” Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said.

Will, also an avid fan of the sport, turns 71 today and is celebrating his birthday with his son, who has close ties to the team.

“I’ve got season tickets up here, and my son works in their clubhouse. I can’t think of anywhere else to be then a baseball field today,” he said.

As game-time neared Reid was greeted near home plate by Harper, one of baseball's up and coming stars. Reid has praised the outfielder on the Senate floor before.

In June 2010, Reid spoke about baseball's next stars with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, referring to Harper as “a good role model” while comparing his athletic potential to baseball Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle.

Harper presented Reid with a signed red and white Nationals jersey and posed for pictures with the Senator before heading into the dugout for a team meeting.

“Having the best baseball prospect in decades come from Las Vegas, in Bryce Harper, I’m going to make it out here every chance I’ve got,” Reid said afterward.

Known as an ardent sports fan, Reid has a history for using athletes to court the vote, such as welterweight boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, who campaigned for Reid in 2010.

But he said today’s visit was not political.

“I’m here to watch a ball game. ... And I’m very hopeful, because we have some say the best pitcher in baseball, in Strasburg, and with Bryce Harper I think it will be really hard to beat the Nationals.”

Correction: May 5, 2012,10:40 a.m. An earlier version of this article misstated the member of the Nationals staff that Reid met.

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