Even after being swept out of the World Series, it was a happy Halloween for the Colorado Rockies.
A crowd estimated by police at about 5,000 braved chilly temperatures and gray skies Wednesday to thank the Rockies for a nearly magical season, even though it ended abruptly with a four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox.
Many of the fans left work or skipped lunch to head downtown, a few blocks from Coors Field, to celebrate with Rockies players, owners and management.
They showed up in full Rockies regalia, donning black and purple shirts, jackets, even Halloween costumes, waving white Rockies rally towels beneath white and purple balloons floating above the stage.
Left-fielder Matt Holliday, a potential MVP, had trouble making himself heard over the screaming chants of "MVP! MVP!"
"I wasn't around when we had sellouts every night," Holliday said, referring to the franchise's early years. "But now that you're here, I know what to expect next season."
Holliday, Jeff Francis, Garrett Atkins, Jason Hirsch and manager Clint Hurdle were among the Rockies present. Owners Charlie and Dick Monfort and general manager Dan O'Dowd were also on hand.
Rockies fans were not disappointed.
"This is absolutely great," said fan Michael Hughes. "You couldn't ask for a classier bunch of guys."
Hughes, 33, came with his son, Dylan, 6, after asking for a longer lunch break at work.
"I just want them to know we're behind them," Hughes said.
Gov. Bill Ritter and Mayor John Hickenlooper sang the team's praises as well, noting the Rockies run meant more than winning some baseball games.
"This state was made a different state in the months of September and October," Ritter told the boisterous, bundled-up crowd. "We will not be out. We will not be down."
A team of no-names that played in front of half-empty stadiums for most of the season looked to be down and out until a September and October run finally caught the city's attention. An unheard of 21 wins in 22 games propelled the Rockies straight into the World Series and the national spotlight.
"At least now everybody has met them," Hickenlooper said.
The irony of a large crowd wasn't lost Hurdle.
"Thank you for the unconditional love," Hurdle said. "And thank you for the conditional love we picked up this season."
Only seven players were at the rally. Many others had already gone home.
"They thought no one would want to come celebrate them for what they did do," Hickenlooper said. "But as we just found out, there's no shortage of people that want to say how great the Rockies are."
Francis stumbled on his words when he spoke to the crowd.
"I don't know if I expected this many people to show up, but I tell you what, it means a lot," Francis said.
Even with the bitter taste of a World Series sweep fresh in their mouths, the fans think of the Rockies as more than just a passing fad.
"It's just crazy," Hughes said. "They're everything we want in a team. Even if they didn't win, they're amazing to me. We're going to start a dynasty here. I can feel it."
Said Hickenlooper: "I think this is a fever. We don't have 100 years of baseball like Boston or New York, but we have a foundation of building a culture here. I don't think it'll be too many years from now we'll be talking Rockies Nation throughout the entire Rocky Mountain West."
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