March 02, 2019
When news first came down that Bryce Harper would be signing with the Phillies, there was only excitement. But one of the questions that followed in the days and hours since revolved around what number Harper would wear.
For his entire career in Washington, Harper wore No. 34, which isn't occupied by any current Phillies. And that was kind of the problem.
No one has worn the No. 34 for the Phillies since Roy Halladay tragically passed away in a small plane crash in November of 2017. Halladay, who was posthumously voted into the Hall of Fame this winter, last donned it back in 2013 (and the last Phillies player to wear it was Andrew Knapp during the 2017 season).
Harper, who dazzled at his introductory press conference on Saturday in Clearwater, understood the implication of wearing that number in Philly now that Halladay is no longer with us.
So, when news came down that Harper had changed his jersey number to No. 3, many assumed that the Phillies told him 34 was off limits, likely because the team plans on eventually retiring Doc's number and didn't want to have to wait 13 years to do so.
That, however, was not the case. It was actually Harper himself who decided no one should wear No. 34 again in this city.
"Of course, I wore 34 [in Washington]. But I thought Roy Halladay should be the last one to wear it [in Philadelphia]," Harper said when asked why he chose to change numbers. "He's somebody in this game that is greater than a lot of guys who 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, being able to play across from him in 2012. So, for me, it's Roy Halladay. He's 34. He's what represents that number in Philly, and when you go in there you see his number on that flagpole in centerfield, it's something that he should be remembered for."
So why didn't Harper choose his favorite number from his youth, No. 7? After all, he only chose No. 34 because he was once on a team where No. 7 was unavailable and 34, well, it adds up to seven.
"Maikel Franco, he wore No. 7 and he's a teammate of mine," Harper added. "He's somebody that I didn't want to ask for their number. I didn't feel right doing that. I don't know if that has any significance to him, being No. 7, but I didn't want to find out. He's No. 7 on the Phillies, and he should be able to wear that number every single day."
So how did he land on No. 3? Well, it's a family thing, which seemed to be a major theme of the day for Harper and the Phillies. [More to come on that.]
"And No. 3, it's kind of like a family number for us," he said. "My brother wore it in high school, my dad wore it in high school growing up, and my mom wore 13."
It's hard to imagine a scenario where Phillies fans fall more in love with Harper than they already are, but this might've just put them over the top.
We'll have much more from Harper's press conference, so stay tuned. But, in the meantime, if you want to buy a No. 3 Bryce Harper jersey for yourself, now you can...
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