Michael Cuddyer to Wear Minnesota Twins Legend's Number in Colorado

Zeke Fuhrman@@mellamoelzekeAnalyst IIIDecember 20, 2011

Michael Cuddyer puts on his number three for the first time at his introductory press conference on Tuesday.
Michael Cuddyer puts on his number three for the first time at his introductory press conference on Tuesday.

Traditionally, players fight over what number they get to wear.

When he was a Washington Redskin, Clinton Portis paid Ifeanyi Ohalete $40,000 for No. 26. Former New York Giants punter Jeff Feagles sold No. 10 to Eli Manning for a Florida vacation package, then sold No. 17 to Plaxico Burress to finance a kitchen remodeling project. 

But, after being introduced at his first press conference as a Colorado Rockie, newly acquired outfielder Michael Cuddyer did one of the classiest things I've seen in sports in a long time.

Cuddyer, who recently signed a three-year deal with the Rockies, has worn No. 5 since breaking into Major League Baseball in 2001. But his familiar No. 5 is being worn by 2010 NL Batting Champion Carlos Gonzalez.

After wearing No. 3 on his sleeve last season as a homage to Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, who passed away last May, Cuddyer will now don Killer's No. 3 for what could be the remainder of his MLB career.

Cuddyer summed it up perfectly in his Colorado Rockies press conference on Tuesday:

The Twins organization had a pretty good player that wore number three. I ended up getting really close to Harmon Killebrew. I wanted to do something to show my respect towards him...over the last 24 hours, I've looked to make him proud...to make his family proud by wearing number three on my back. That way I feel like I'm playing for something on the front of my chest and on my back.

This isn't like David Wells wearing Babe Ruth's No. 3 in Boston...only to change numbers mid-season. Harmon Killebrew was very active with the Twins organization, mentoring players during their time in Minnesota. Cuddyer's 11 seasons in Minnesota would have been entirely different if not for Harmon.

And now, because of that, Michael Cuddyer will have the same type of positive influence on the Rockies players that Harmon Killebrew was able to have on Cuddyer.

Congratulations, Colorado. You have a world-class player and one of the classiest people in Major League Baseball.