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A History of Goodbye: Story's emotional sendoff a rarity for the franchise and fans

Patrick Lyons Avatar
October 1, 2021

Repeatedly gesturing with a right-hand patting against his heart and pointing outward to all those in attendance, Trevor Story said goodbye on Wednesday in a moment unlike any witnessed in Colorado Rockies franchise history.

It wasn’t made unique by the two-hour rain delay that postponed the final game of the season, nor the stadium lights shutting off momentarily in the bottom of the eighth inning. These are footnotes in a much grander context.

After all the outstanding players that have helped establish their franchise, none has ever departed the Rockies in a fashion quite like Story.

The decrepit weather literally dampened his 743rd game in purple, but fans were still able to say goodbye to their superstar. He, in turn, said goodbye to them.

“With the fans, going around and seeing their faces – they stuck through it through a rainy day and a tough game to kind of sit through,” Story said after a 4-for-4 performance that ended with a walk in the 10-5 victory over Washington. “All in all, I would say I’m very satisfied with it and most of all we win. That’s what it’s all about. I’m happy that if it was the last one that we won.”

Following a lap around the warning track with teammates to show thanks to those who stayed, Story grabbed several handfuls of personal items to give to those who’ve supported him over the last six years: Nike Alpha Huarache Elite batting gloves that aided a his perfect performance at the plate, his Old Hickory model ML1 bat with name engraved on the barrel and even the New Era black cap with interlocking “CR” from atop his head. 

Aug 30, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (27) celebrates after hitting a home run during the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The uniqueness of this gesture is partially about the selfless nature of Story. In the past he’s helped raise funds for foster children through Giving Sole and a recent donation of $150,000 with Toronto Blue Jays’ star George Springer was presented to the Perfect Game Cares Foundation to benefit underprivileged youths.

The other key element to this swan song: the scenario of star player definitively exiting after a single game has never played out like this before for the Rockies.

Jon Gray entered the final week in a similar scenario and may have pitched his final game for the franchise, too. But the hope is that the start on Saturday at Coors Field was not his last as both he and the organization have made overtures to continue the relationship beyond this season.  

Most recently, the trade of third baseman Nolan Arenado was received with pure vitriol from a fanbase hoping to spend the next decade with their own version of George Brett or Mike Schmidt. Not only were those dreams dashed, but the transaction occurred during the offseason, one which followed a season without any fans. No one at the ballpark on September 27, 2019 could have guessed it would be their final time witnessing Arenado at the hot corner with Colorado emblazoned across his chest, especially considering it wasn’t even the last game of the season.

Same is true for players like Dante Bichette, Vinny Castilla and Matt Holliday, all cornerstone players at the time who were still under team control and were dealt in the offseason. Fans and the players were resigned to bid adieu to one another from the privacy of their home and without any true moment of closure.  

The impending loss of several important players at the trade deadline also makes it impossible to know if a player’s final appearance will truly be one or not.

Original Blake Street Bomber Ellis Burks was dealt on July 31 after four-plus seasons while the club began a seven-game road trip. Hall of Famer Larry Walker vetoed a deal to the Texas Rangers only to accept one to the St. Louis Cardinals a week later. Ubaldo Jiménez lowered his ERA for the 10th start in a row with a 6.2 inning performance at home on July 19 only be traded two weeks later during a road trip. It was a similar scenario with Troy Tulowitzki, who was dealt while in Chicago for the first game away from Coors Field and one day after not even being placed in the lineup. 

In 2018, a pair of Colorado’s beloveds entered into the unknown of free agency: DJ LeMahieu and Carlos González. The latter would be in his second foray on the market after a false alarm the previous offseason that resulted in a one-year reunion. With so much at stake through the final games of that season – the National League West pennant, Game 163, NL Wild Card Game – a proper send-off did not align.

Of course, the goodbye for Todd Helton was perfect. During the final month of the 2013 season, he announced he would be retiring , allowing fans to say goodbye throughout the entire final homestand. Mr. Rockie received a royal sendoff and, in return, he deposited a souvenir into the right field stands for the final home run of The Toddfather’s career. 

The only instance that fits Story’s farewell is the departure of Andrés Galarraga, the first superstar to leave for so-called greener pastures. A member of the 1993 expansion club that helped establish Denver as a baseball town, the loss of Big Cat was masked by the remaining members of the Bombers still in place, not to mention a more than suitable replacement at first base in the aforementioned Helton waiting in the wings. Colorado was still in its infancy as an organization and, perhaps, fans had yet to know understand the true pain of losing a hometown hero.

At the time of the Tulo trade, former Rockies GM Jeff Bridich said, “Timelines aren’t perfect.”

For once, even in the most worst-case of scenarios like the end of the era for Story and Colorado, it may have been this time. Because of Story and because of Rockies’ fans.

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