Gausman announced on Twitter that he’s switching from No. 39 to No. 34 to honor two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, who died on Nov. 7 after the small plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.
In explaining why he surrendered No. 39, which he wore the past four seasons, Gausman explained that Halladay “instantly” became his idol because they grew up in Colorado. Baseball Almanac lists only 93 players who have hailed from the state, including former Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz, who was born in Grand Junction. Tippy Martinez, who pitched for the Orioles from 1976-1986, was born in La Junta.
Gausman, 26, grew up in Centennial, a Denver suburb ranked as the 15th-safest city in the U.S. Halladay was born in Denver and attended Arvada West High School
“To me, Roy gave me the inspiration that I could fulfill even my biggest of dreams - being a pitcher just like him,” Gausman tweeted. “The older I got the more I began to understand the challenges of being a baseball player in Colorado. 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.”
Gausman also said he wants to honor Halladay “on and off the field.”
Not long after Halladay’s death was confirmed, Gausman shared MLB’s tweet and wrote, “Being a kid from Colorado, this man was my hero growing up!! Was a pleasure to watch pitch. Can’t believe this happened.”
The Orioles assigned Gausman No. 37, but he switched to 31 after the Orioles hired pitching coach Dave Wallace in Oct. 2013. Gausman wore 31 in spring training, but Ubaldo Jiménez requested the number after signing with the Orioles in February 2014.
Jiménez gave Gausman a Rolex as compensation.
Halladay wore No. 34 during his four seasons with the Phillies. He wore 32 in 12 seasons with the Blue Jays and won a Cy Young Award in both leagues.
Infielder Paul Janish was the last Oriole to wear No. 34. He retired over the summer to take a coaching job at Rice University.
In honor of Roy #34 pic.twitter.com/iuA28LNd1I-- Kevin Gausman (@KevinGausman) December 7, 2017