Last night I attended the Dodgers vs. Rockies game at Coors Field. Now while the game got fairly ugly, fairly quickly, for us home town Rockies fans as the Dodgers spanked us 8-2. For a team that appears to have given up on the season and perhaps worse, appears to have burned out on their manager Jim Tracy. Only time will tell what the off season holds for this franchise as they were expected to make a serious run for the division title but currently sit well below .500.
Even though the game was a bust, my buddy and I had the pleasure of talking to someone who can only be described as the front runner for one of the biggest Rockies fans of all time but also a true fan of the game of baseball. This guy has had season tickets for the Rockies at least since Coors Field opened in 1995 and sits right behind the left field wall in the first row always wearing a baseball glove looking to catch the next home run hit in his direction. I have seen him on TV and see him every time I'm at the ballpark. The man's closet must be completely filled with baseball jerseys as it looks like he wears a different one to every game. These aren't just Rockies jerseys either. Yesterday he was wearing a Montreal Expos jersey and commented to us that he had just ordered a Boston Braves jersey that will don the name Ruth on the back. How cool is that?
Now I need to run through some of this guy's statistics. Since sitting in left field this guy claims to have caught 81 home run balls over the years and over 2,700 batting practice balls. His daughter, who attended the game with him last night was attending her 403 Rockies game and was no older than 9 years old if I had to guess. What an incredible record!! 81 home run balls. In my baseball watching career I have felt incredibly lucky to have snatched up 3 foul balls. I can't imagine catching 81 home run balls.
In 2000 he caught balls on back to back homers and later received a letter from the commissioner of baseball saying he had people check and couldn't find another person who had caught two home runs in one inning. He also caught three home runs by one hitter in a game. He has caught several home runs that were the first of someone's career or other milestone hits and has traded those balls for signed memorabilia like bats, jerseys, etc.
It's pretty obvious that this guy loves the game of baseball, but even more he is a die hard Rockies fan. I heard him say last night during our conversation that if he had the opportunity, he would throw every home run ball he has caught by the opposition back into the field of play if it meant the runs come off the board. Here in Denver we need more fans like this guy. Even though there was 44,000+ people at the game last night to watch two sub-par teams play a game, I have always had a feeling that Denver is mostly full of fair weather fans that only really love a team when they are successful, which is tough cause most of the sports in Denver have not been very successful lately. If all the fans can show a real dedication to a team and stick with it through good times and bad that might translate to the front office and then they might demand more from the team than they have been getting.
I recently spent a day at Fenway park and as much as I hate Boston and all of their professional sports teams, their fans know how to cheer for their team. Granted the teams in Boston have been incredibly successful over the last decade and I'm sure that relates to the amount of serious fans, but while I was in Boston and at Fenway I watched the Kansas City Royals beat the Red Sox. The fans were louder than I have ever heard fans at Coors Field and they all stayed for the whole game no matter what the score was. Teams around the league could learn something from their dedication and I can only hope for more fans to show up to Coors Field and root on our team like the man in left field looking to catch his 82nd home run ball.