CLEARWATER — There were a few brand new sights to take in at the Philadelphia Phillies spring training facility in Clearwater on Saturday afternoon.
Bryce Harper, arguably the face of baseball, put on a brand new hat for the first time, with a logo and colors he had never been seen in before. He spoke at length about family and putting down roots, far from the occasionally brash personality that had put him at odds with a certain generation of fan that bristled at remarks like “clown question, bro.”
When he pulled on the Phillies pinstripes for the first time, it was adorned with a brand new number in your program.
Harper will wear No. 3 with the Phillies, after having 34 across his back for the entirety of his tenure with the Washington Nationals. His reason for switching digits was to pay homage to a Hall of Famer, who Harper said he believed should be the last to wear the number for the organization.
“I thought Roy Halladay should be the last one to wear it. He’s somebody in this game that’s greater than a lot of guys who ever played it. A Hall of Famer. Somebody who played the game the right way, was a great person, and was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met…. For me, it’s Roy Halladay.”
Bryce Harper's tribute to Roy Halladay.
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) March 2, 2019
Halladay wore 34 for his four seasons with the Phillies, and while Harper’s statement won’t technically be accurate (5 players have worn 34 for the Phillies since Halladay retired in 2012), it is a nice sentiment nonetheless.
Halladay was inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the most recent class of inductees, and the gesture from Harper as he joins the franchise is likely a prelude to the number being permanently retired by the team.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports