This June will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Sports Illustrated cover story that called Bryce Harper “Baseball’s Chosen One.”
On that cover, Harper was photographed wearing No. 34 in his team’s high school jersey. He would retain that jersey number throughout his professional career.
But with Harper switching organizations for the first time as a pro ballplayer, he’s also decided to switch jersey numbers, and will wear No. 3 with his new team, the Phillies.
It’s more than just Harper moving onto the next chapter of his life and leaving No. 34 behind, as he revealed the classy reason why he won’t wear No. 34 with the Phillies.
“I wore No. 34. But I thought Roy Halladay should be the last to wear it.”
Bryce Harper has the utmost respect for the Hall of Famer. pic.twitter.com/Q9pTXqALFU
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) March 2, 2019
“I thought Roy Halladay should be the last one to wear it,” Harper said at his introductory news conference with the Phillies on Saturday, referring to the No. 34. “He’s somebody in this game that’s greater than a lot of guys that have ever played it. A Hall of Famer. Somebody that played the game the right way, was a great person and was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”
“He’s (No.) 34,” Harper added. “He’s what represents that number in Philly and when you go in there you see his name on that flagpole in center field and it’s something he should be remembered for.”
Halladay played for the Phillies from 2010 to 2013 and won his second Cy Young Award with the team. He died in a plane crash in 2017 and was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Coincidentally, Halladay wore No. 34 with the Phillies because his previous number was not available. He wore No. 32 as a Blue Jay, but the Phillies had already retired that number in honor of Steve Carlton, according to USA Today.
Harper and Halladay’s career overlapped by two years in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, the then-rookie hit a two-run triple off Halladay.
Harper plans on wearing No. 3 for the Phillies for a long, long time. That much is evident by his decision not to lobby for an opt-out clause in the 13-year, $330 million deal he signed with the team.
“At the beginning of the process, I told this guy I didn’t want (an opt-out) anywhere I went,” Harper said Saturday, referring to his agent, Scott Boras, according to ESPN. “I wanted to be able to dig my roots somewhere, that was through the good, through the bad, through the ups and downs of the organization. It’s going to be tough for 13 years to win every single year, and I totally understand that.”
Harper’s jersey change is sure to be much less expensive than the logo change he might need for his Mercedes Benz, which in 2012 had a Nationals’ “W” emblem in place of the Mercedes logo.
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) July 5, 2012
But with a $330 million contract, Harper should have no problem footing the bill for the logo change. (If he still owns the Mercedes, that is.)
Many expected him to sign for even more than that, but Harper suggested he may have left some money on the table so the Phillies could potentially go after Angels superstar Mike Trout, who will be a free agent in 2021.
“I know there’s another guy in about two years that comes up off the books, we’ll see what happens then,” Harper said.
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