We’re three days away from the Colorado Rockies opening up their 2023 preseason, but before we look ahead, it’s time to reflect. We could go “back to the future,” one might say.
At Coors Field, a place providing a ballpark experience that many regard to be one of the best in Major League Baseball, there is a statue outside the main entrance adjacent to home plate. It is not of any specific player, but “The Player.”
It contains a very poignant quote from Branch Rickey, who is universally respected as one of the most important figures in Major League Baseball history. Without Rickey, we never would have had Jackie Robinson, and without Robinson there never would have been integration.
It’s a fine monument, but the Colorado Rockies need more visual representation of their history. They have been around since 1993, so they are not kids anymore.
While most of the time they have been rather mediocre, and often pretty bad, they have also had their moments as well.
The Colorado Rockies, overall, have been losers, but they have also been the postseason five times in their thirty year history. They even won the pennant in 2007.
That World Series appearance didn’t go so well, but hey, at least they made one.
They should have statues honoring their own players, not just a monument to a nondescript, unspecified The Player.
How about Todd Helton?
He is “Mr. Rockie” as he holds the Rockies’ club records for hits (2,519), home runs (369), doubles (592), walks (1,335), runs scored (1,401), runs batted in (RBIs, with 1,406), games played (2,247), and total bases (4,292), among others.
He is a first ballot Hall of Very Good as he’s a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, and three-time Gold Glove Award winner. Not to mention he spent his entire 17 year career with the Colorado Rockies. His number is already long retired by the club, and I’m far from the first person to propose this idea.
Then maybe after him Larry Walker (see the photo above, as it honors his appearance at the 1998 All-Star Game), who is a literal Hall of Famer.
Walker spent more years in Denver than he did with Montreal or St. Louis, and in 1997, he became the only player in major league history to register both a .700 slugging percentage (SLG) and 30 stolen bases in the same season.
He was also the first player in more than 60 years to record a batting average of .360 in three consecutive seasons from 1997 to 1999, Walker also won three NL batting championships.
How about Andres Gallaraga? Dante Bichette? Troy Tulowitzki?
It would have to be a hitter, because well, you know the history of Colorado Rockies pitching. The slugging is there, because well, you know, the ball really carries out of the park in that mile high air.
It can sometimes feel like a 16″ softball park when you see the offensive numbers, given how the elevation helps hitters and hurts pitchers.
Ubaldo Jimenez has the best pitching stats in Rockies history, but he wasn’t with the club very long. Maybe, if you have to have a pitcher, the answer might be Aaron Cook or Jorge De La Rosa.
But honestly, you need somebody, because you really look like losers if you have nobody. The Colorado Rockies are better than that. Much better than that, actually. Start with Todd Helton, do Larry Walker next, and we’ll go from there.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.
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