BALTIMORE -- The baseball world was forever changed when pitcher Roy Halladay passed away unexpectedly in November, and tributes came pouring in. Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman will pay homage for the entire 2018 season and beyond.
Gausman took to his Twitter account on Thursday afternoon to post a picture of his new uniform, Halladay's No. 34, as a tribute to the legendary pitcher. The Orioles righty did not know or play with Halladay, but he looked up to him, and they shared a common bond: being from Colorado.
In honor of Roy 34 pic.twitter.com/iuA28LNd1I
- Kevin Gausman (@KevinGausman) December 7, 2017
"I just want to honor him. Obviously, he was someone I really looked up to," Gausman, who attended high school in Aurora, Colo., said in a phone interview. "One of my biggest regrets looking back is I didn't reach out to him and get his number from someone who knows him and get to know him."
After Halladay died, Gausman got to thinking. He had no real connection with his current uniform, No. 39. (He wore No. 37 in his rookie year in 2013 before switching.) Fans would always ask the reason behind his Major League jersey, and he would shrug. So Gausman reached out to home equipment manager Chris Guth to see if No. 34 was available and if they could make it happen.
"I told them what I wanted to do and why. They were really cool about [the number change]," Gausman said. "I look at it as a way to honor him and hopefully help pass the torch from him. Guys from Colorado have to go through a lot just to get to professional baseball, let alone the Major Leagues. He grew up 30 minutes from where I grew up and [was] one of the best pitchers, not just from Colorado or his team, but in our generation.
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"There's a flurry of young players from Colorado, and they're getting taken more seriously now. He really put us on the map, and we're going to do our best to keep us there."
Gausman tweeted the uniform picture along with a note explaining the reason for the move, citing Halladay -- a Denver native -- as his idol. Several minutes after his tweet, Gausman's phone lost power; when he was able to turn it back on, he was pleasantly surprised by the tweet's outpouring of support. Within the hour, it had more than 800 retweets and had been favorited more than 2,700 times.
"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 players that were born there. I'd like to think we have our own fraternity amongst ourselves."
Halladay died tragically on Nov. 7 when his ICON A5 plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. He played 16 big league seasons, winning the Cy Young Award in each league, pitching a perfect game and a no-hitter in 2010 and reaching the All-Star Game eight times.
"The loss of Roy was tragic and is saddening," wrote Gausman, "but I feel honored to have watched everything he achieved."
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.