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BSN Exclusive: A man called "Tiny" who made Colorado's celebration possible

Patrick Lyons Avatar
October 20, 2018

DENVER – Arenado. Story. CarGo. LeMahieu. Freeland. Marquez. Ottavino.

These names and several more are known as the players who made it possible for the 2018 Colorado Rockies to clinch their second consecutive playoff appearance.

Bridich. Black. Rosenthal. Wilson. Cole.

Other notable names of coaches and front office executives who helped build a team that won at least 90 games for only the third time in franchise history.

But one person may have been even more critical to the popping of those expensive champagne bottles: clubhouse manager Mike “Tiny” Pontarelli.

On a Friday night in late September, the Colorado native was at the forefront in orchestrating the details for the player celebration in the clubhouse.

Pontarelli, in his 12th season with Rockies, got his start with the organization as a bat boy and clubhouse attendant on the visiting side.

When the Rockies pulled ahead of the Phillies on Friday with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, Pontarelli and his crew got to work.

“We were kinda taking a glimpse at where we were at in the game and in about the sixth inning, I reached to our engineering department who helps us do all the plastic. Really, that clock starts ticking for us in the sixth inning. My guys did an outstanding job of not only getting not just the plastic up, but plastic on the floor, getting the music ready, the lights going, the whole pageantry of it looking good. It takes roughly 45 minutes to an hour. So, three innings of baseball to make sure all your ducks are in a row and everything’s lined up.”

The details of preparing the clubhouse was a specific one, especially when it came to setting the stage for all those champagne showers.

“Get all the plastic up, get the champagne unpacked, opened. And it’s not just opening the bottles of champagne – you’ve got to take the foil off each bottle, you have to undo all the little cages to get things ready to go so that the players can just grab it and pop and go. It takes some time and you’ve got to be ready at any point to pull it back down.”

The process required all hands on deck in order to construct an environment conducive of such a celebration.

“There was probably 25 people pulling some weight, doing physical work to make sure that everything goes off without a hitch. This is an expansive room. Our clubhouse is looking at 6,000 square feet of space that’s used to celebrate. You’ve got to make sure all your bases are covered, everything is in position and everything is on cue to where everything unfolds timing-wise the way it’s supposed to.”

And it’s not Pontarelli’s first rodeo either.

Last year, the Rockies won 87 games and earned a playoff berth as one of the Wild Card teams, giving the clubhouse a recent memory in how to execute such an operation.

“We’ve all been through it enough to where we’ve had a lot of experience and we’ve certainly have a lot of hands of deck from our engineering department, Aramark facility services, guys who make sure we have enough trash tubs and ice tubs. There’s a lot of support outside of the clubhouse staff, too, that helps us do a nice job.”

Pontarelli was tight-lipped about giving a preview of the celebration on Sunday should the Rockies win their first National League West title.

“It’s business as usual. If things go well for us, we’ll do what we do and if we end up playing somewhere else, we’re prepared for that, too. A lot of different scenarios that we’ve had to plan for, but we’re professionals and we’re ready for anything.”


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