Bryce Harper's New Sponsorship Gives Him Gear You Won't Be Able To See: Contact Lenses – Forbes
Bryce Harper signs deal to join contact lens maker Acuvue and wear Transitions.
Bryce Harper remembers putting on a pair of glasses for the first time in seventh grade. By eighth grade he had switched to contacts and was wearing them every single day of his freshman year of high school.
Now one of the richest baseball players in Major League Baseball as a new Philadelphia Phillies star with a $330 million contract, the six-time All-Star and former National League MVP signed another new deal this offseason, this with Johnson & Johnson Vision, makers of Acuvue contacts.
The deal for Harper goes beyond an endorsement, though, as Harper debuts the new Acuvue Oasys with Transitions product, which goes on sale April 1, a photochromic lens that automatically adapts to changing light conditions, reducing squinting and allowing wearers to recover from bright lights up to five seconds faster.
“I’m trying to train my body to get better each offseason, to get strong on both sides of the field,” Harper says. “In the weight room or anywhere else, but also with my vision. It is huge for me and been huge for me my whole life.”
Harper has worn Acuvue for the last couple of years and says with his blue eyes he squints plenty, especially on day games. “It has been great to use Transitions this offseason,” he says. The first day he tried them, the squinting question came up. “I didn’t feel like I was squinting,” he says. “That was one of my initial reactions. They felt the same exact way as regular contact lenses. It definitely worked for me.”
The deal with Acuvue continues to bolster an endorsement lineup for Harper that already includes Under Armour, Gatorade, Jaguar, T-Mobile and Blind Barber. Signing a new deal at this point in his MLB career doesn’t come without consideration. “I don’t want to ever take away from baseball things or performing on the field,” he says. “You do it for the team, to win. Those are the most important things. With the companies I am with, if they are going to help me be a better ballplayer or raise awareness for our team, that is a company that I want to be with. With Acuvue having Transitions now, it makes me a better ballplayer and elevates my game.”
It also helped that Harper had already been wearing the brand’s contacts, giving him an “authentic” connection to the company. “I have worn them, and I am used to wearing them,” says the far-sighted player who jokes he doesn’t have old-man vision yet. “I like partnering with brands that treat me well. Being able to be with Acuvue was huge for me, something I have used pretty much my whole career. Being able to have something so innovative with Transitions makes me that much of a better player.” He relies on his vision to see spin and rotation.
While Harper didn’t have to adjust to the new contacts that he has worn all through spring training, he knows it will take a bit of time to get used to his new ballpark in Philadelphia, Citizens Bank Park. The adjustment period of picking up balls from either side of the mound will come within days and the Transitions, he says, will help him see spin and ball rotation in either daylight hours or bright night games. “I think the biggest thing for me is going to be the shadows and not knowing where they are on a 3:05 game,” he says about the new park. “I am excited to see what the Transitions are like in that atmosphere.”
Bryce Harper in new Acuvue contacts.
Moving from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia is still so new — he’s been in the city for a matter of days — that it may be too early to see, but Harper believes new business opportunities will come along, ones he will pick and choose from to see if he wants to add them to his plate. He also knows that the more the team wins, the most opportunities that come along.
Whether new agreements or within existing relationships, Harper enjoys having a hand in the creation of product. He’s already shown that with signature cleats and apparel lines with Under Armour, his own bottles with Gatorade and the hair products from Blind Barber.
“All these brands I have partnered with have really let me be part of the process,” he says. “I am looking forward to really opening the doors, doing different things and being more innovative. If I can help make it better, I’m all for that.”
I cover stadiums, sneakers and tennis. I have written regularly about design, gear, architecture and sport for TIME, Sports Illustrated, Popular Mechanics, Wired and
I cover stadiums, sneakers and tennis. I have written regularly about design, gear, architecture and sport for TIME, Sports Illustrated, Popular Mechanics, Wired and more, from sit-down exclusives to chat sneakers with Kobe Bryant to multiple fashion discussions with Roger Federer and from walking the concourses of yet-unopened stadiums with architects to exploring concession menus with chefs. By merging my interest in sports with architecture and design, I cover sports aesthetics. Follow me on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.