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Play Ball! (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

Every home opener is exciting...but the Rockies may never top the first one.

Baseball Is Back In Colorado

Is there a more glowing green than the outfield grass, lit by Colorado's spring sunshine?  Does dirt-brown ever look as good as...well, brown dirt on a raked and ready infield? 

When you get a chance, go get your old baseball glove, or your kid's baseball glove out of the closet or out from under the bed.  Smell it.  Doesn't that leathery smell, with just a hint of dirt, and sweat take you back to hot summer days when you played ball all day, every day?

Those of us raised on baseball as kids dreamed of playing baseball as adults. Most of us didn't get to, but a few hundred men get to, right now.  Tomorrow 9 of them will take the field...Coors Field and play ball for the Colorado Rockies.  What a day that always is.

It'll never be better than April 9th, 1993.  That's the day Major League baseball first came to Colorado.  We had all wanted it for so long...we thought it was going to happen a few times...and then, finally, it did.   A record 80,277 fans filled Mile High Stadium that day...remember, Coors Field wasn't ready until the 1995 season.   (The single baseball game attendance record was broken March 30th, 2008 when the Dodgers hosted the Red Sox in an exhibition game at The LA Coliseum) . I was there on April 9th...below is a poster I have at home that shows the maxed-out Mile High...fans and fanatics screaming for their home team, their brand new, long- awaited home team.

That was a glorious spring day..warm and sunny and perfect for baseball.  The Rockies first batter in the Rockies first game in Colorado made it an even more perfect day.  Eric Young was a speedy second baseman.  We all knew he was going to steal bases all season long.  We didn't know he was gong to steal the show with a single swing, steal the hearts of the fans with an unexpected smash.  Eric Young, E.Y., created the most electrifying sports moment I've ever witnessed in person..most of the 80,276 others might well agree. 

In the Rockies first at bat in their new park he sent the ball out of the park. We all watched as it flew in the thin Colorado air and when it cleared the left-field wall...we all went wild. All 80,277 of us.  I've never heard a noise like it, never seen a sports scene so crazy. That home run didn't win a World Series, it didn't even win the game...(though the Rockies did top the Expos 11-4.)   It did let us all know that our team was here, and was going to be fun to watch, and was going to do some great things...eventually.

Here's my ticket from that day (below) ...I've kept it all this time in the thick plastic holder they gave us all that do to store them, and display them.  What a great idea that was!  Do you have yours?

I was part of a season ticket deal then.  I went to the home opener for the first 10 or 11 years, always flying home to Colorado when I was working at TV stations in other states.  I haven't been much at all lately..but that's my fault, not the team's. Our Rockies have done a lot in the last few years...and could well do even more this season.

So when they take the field at home for the first time against the Padres..the oufield grass will glow green, the infield dirt will somehow be a beautiful dirty brown, and they will thrill us.  They'll thrill us for a while even if they don't win because they're back, and it's baseball.   As for topping that first home game of the season in that first year?...It's not going to happen...not in the first game they play.

The only way our Rockies will top that..is with a win in the LAST game they play some season....soon!  Go Rockies.

We'll talk again soon.

Don Ward

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