Saturday, February 2, 2013

February 2- Colorado Rockies

When I woke up this morning the last thing I expected was to spend over an hour doing research on this hat. For the most part I always go into marking up my hats with a pre-set knowledge of what era the hat came from and a list of players and stats that within. But today, I met my match. The Colorado Rockies are the only team still in existence who has not changed their logo. The reason I say “still in existence” is because from 1969-2004 the Montreal Expos had stayed true to their original logo. At it stands now, the Rockies have been going strong with the “CR” since 1993. Today is also the first day where I’ve truly felt that this blog serves some kind of benefit to baseball fans. I’m not in any way putting myself or my previous posts down, but they were mostly for entertainment with a little bit of education to it. What’s really interesting about most Web sites dedicated to uniform and hat history is that the Rockies hats are not isolated by year and use. By this I mean that the premier Web site run by the Hall of Fame does not have each hat used by the Rockies marked by color or separated out. Every style they have listed is the all black style. That’s hardly helpful. On top of that, every other Web site I tracked down had the logo and the proper color schemes listed, but nothing to indicate what color the hat’s bill is. Seriously, check them out some time.

I was able to track down the information on this hat after combing through the entire financial history of the Rockies organization. On January 19, 1999 the Rockies introduced the all black panel cap with the purple bill along with two additional jerseys to their arsenal. While the Rockies have maintained the same logo for the last 20 years, they certainly have mixed it up quite a bit with their hat, pant and jersey combinations like the University of Oregon football team. But at least when marking this hat up, there were two easy choices to stick with.

#17- Todd Helton is one of the few guys left in Major League Baseball who is still playing for the same team that drafted him. More specifically, a guy who has been with the same organization for over 15 years. Helton’s story is quite interesting as he was given athletic scholarships to the University of Tennessee for both baseball and football. On the gridiron Helton played quarterback and served as the backup to Heath Schuler, who later went on to play in the NFL. Going into Helton’s junior year, he was once again #2 on the depth chart behind Jerry Colquitt (yah, I never heard of him either). During the season opener versus UCLA Colquitt tore ligaments in his knee, thus passing the starting job down to Helton. Helton lasted three weeks in the position until suffering a similar knee injury as Colquitt against Mississippi State. Tennessee then had no choice but to turn to their third string quarter back, some no-namer named Peyton Manning. And the rest as they say is history. The rest of the school year wasn’t a total wash; Helton still won the Dick Howser Trophy (Nations to collegiate baseball player) following his junior year, and was still scouted to play in the NFL by the Houston Oilers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, but… baseball was his calling. Helton was drafted eighth overall in the 1995 draft and has gone on to have a solid career: .320/354/1345 with 2420 career hits, three Gold Gloves and five All-Star appearances. Another cool fact about Helton is that he and Derek Jeter are the only two players to hold the franchise record for hits and still be active.

#33- Larry Walker at one point in his career was a first ballot Hall of Famer, primarily because of his time in Denver. Walker started out with the Expos from 1989-94 and was a member of the team when they were on the verge of winning their first World Series in franchise history. But, the strike happened and Larry Walker was a free agent at year’s end. The Rockies, wanting to add some pop to their lineup, signed Walker to a multiyear deal as the strike came to a close and helped the team make the postseason for the first time as the first ever Wild Card winner. In his first season Walker went .306/36/101. Walker then went on to win three batting titles (1998, 1999 and 2001) and an MVP in 1997 with .366/49/130 and an OPS of 1.172. Boom! Walker’s last season with the Rockies came halfway into the 2004 season when he was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals and put out to pasture. For the 10 years he rocked the house in Denver, he was clearly one of the best in the game.

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