Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman plans to wear No. 34 next season to honor two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, who died last month in a small plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico.
Announcing his decision to switch jersey numbers on Twitter, Gausman said Halladay was his idol growing up because they both hailed from Colorado, a state that is known more for producing winter Olympic athletes than baseball players. Gausman, 26, grew up in Centennial, Colo., a southeastern Denver suburb, while Halladay came from Arvada, which is in northwest of Denver.
"Being a kid in love with the game of baseball, many of my afternoons and fondest childhood memories are of watching the game with my dad," Gausman wrote in his post. "Naturally I became a fan of fellow Colorado native Roy Halladay. He instantly became my idol. For years I watched him dominate his competition. To me, Roy gave me the inspiration that I could fulfill even my biggest of dreams – being a pitcher just like him."
Gausman said Halladay served as an inspiration that he could also pitch in the major leagues. According to Baseball Reference, Halladay and Gausman are among just 92 players born in Colorado to play in the major leagues. Also included on that list are former Orioles Brian Matusz and Tippy Martinez. The only current Hall of Famer born in Colorado is Rich "Goose" Gossage.
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"The older I got, the more I began to understand the challenges of being a baseball player in Colorado," Gausman wrote. "There have been less than 100 Major League Baseball players that were born there. I'd like to think we have our own fraternity amongst ourselves."
Halladay, who won Cy Young Awards in both leagues (the American League award in 2003 with the Toronto Blue Jays and the National League award with the Philadelphia Phillies), wore No. 34 in his four years with the Phillies. Before then, he wore No. 32 in parts of 12 seasons with Toronto.
Gausman wore No. 37 when he debuted with the Orioles in 2013 and has worn No. 39 for the past four seasons. Gausman also wears his home state pride on his left arm, where he has a sleeve tattoo that includes spot color of the red and gold "C" logo that is on the Colorado state flag.
Shortly after Gausman's tweet, the Orioles announced that Gausman will wear No. 34 starting next season.
Halladay, who was one of the best pitchers of this generation, died on Nov. 7 flying his private plane off the gulf coast of Florida.