Children born in 2004 are nearing graduation and starting to consider life after high school.
Those kids, now approaching 18-years-old, have never seen Larry Walker play for the Colorado Rockies. Even those of a more advanced age may have observed from afar, never making it down to the cathedral on 20th and Blake Street.
Of course, good parents surely showed clips to their offspring of the Hall of Fame right fielder and told tales of the good ol’ days about the happenings at Coors Field.
But it’s not just the Class of 2022 who’s missed some notable moments in Rockies history.
Here are five performances in purple you most certainly did not get to attend live.
Darryl Kile – Aug 20, 1998
If someone tells you they were at this game, you can simply check their passport.
Kile, the first major free agent starting pitcher signed by Colorado when he inked a three-year, $24 million deal in December 1997, had some of his better starts on the road that first season. One of the best in franchise history didn’t even take place on American soil.
Against the Montreál Expos during the dog days of summer, Kile struck out 14 hitters, second-most for a single game in Rockies history. Only 11,680 had tickets to that game and surely even less came through the gates as no recognizable member of the first-place Les Expos from 1994 remained on the roster.
Jason Jennings – Aug 23, 2001
Pitchers have a tendency to run into at least one baseball during their career. Sometimes it can even leave the yard. For Jennings and a group of just seven other Rockies pitchers, they’ve actually been able to crank a home run on two or more occasions.
The second one came at Wrigley Field in front of nearly 40,000 fans in 2004 when Jennings became the only pitcher to ever homer off Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in 1,250 at bats.
But the first long ball came as a surprise in more ways than one. Getting the promotion from Triple-A Colorado Springs all the way to Queens, NY meant that only his family and friends would have the opportunity to see his first game as a big leaguer. What followed was historic.
Jennings became the first player in MLB history to throw a complete game shutout and hit a home run in his debut. The ninth-inning jack to right field off Donne Wall came in a blowout by the Rockies that saw many fair-weather Mets fans depart Shea Stadium early on the drizzly night. (Tip of the cap for those that stuck around and gave Jennings a standing ovation.)
Matt Kemp – Aug 2, 2020
It was the pandemic season. Literally, no one was in the stands.
On television, we witnessed former Rockies killer Matt Kemp don the purple pinstripes and slug his second home run at Coors Field in as many days. He had two hits to go along with his pair of runs batted in and helped lift Colorado over San Diego in a 9-6 victory.
Through his first 12 games with the club, the 35-year-old held a solid .258/.358/.516 slash line and provided significant lineup protection for the middle of the order. The Rockies were 11-3 at the end of that day, the best record in all of MLB, and appeared poised to earn one of the National League’s eight postseason berths.
Then, reality struck. Kemp’s slash line dipped to .233/.305/.384 and Colorado went on to go 15-31 from that point, worst in the sport.
Juan Pierre – Apr 26, 2005
If you ever overhear someone brag about seeing Pierre hit a home run in person, you’re not wrong in having severe doubts.
During his 14-year career, the slight-of-frame center fielder managed to swat only 18 dingers. With Colorado, he managed only three in his three seasons in purple, all of which came on the road.
No, Pierre would not hit his first homer at Coors Field until a Tuesday night affair in 2005 as a member of the Florida Marlins. Decked out in teal during a 9-3 Rockies’ loss, he managed to go deep against Jamey Wright in front of 18,885 before the next two dates were cancelled for rain and snow, respectively.
Outside of the fan-free 2020 and the 2021 season that limited the capacity during the first three months, this date was the 27th-worst attended among the over 2,000 MLB games in the city of Denver.
John Vander Wal – Aug 28, 1995
Chances are you might not place Vander Wal in the same class with Walker the Hall of Famer or Andrés “Big Cat” Galarraga amongst the great former Expos who eventually suited up for the Rockies. However, for the first man off the bench, he did his job better than most.
In fact, he did it better than anyone in the history of the game, coming through with 28 pinch-hits during the ‘95 season (which had 18 games less than normal due to a work stoppage), a record that still stands.
Against the Pirates on this night, his abilities were on display, and thensome. Vander Wal swiped only six bases during his five seasons with Colorado, none of which came in the altitude of the Rocky Mountains.
In front of a crowd of just 8,242 at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium, Vander Wal singled for starting pitcher Roger Bailey and proceeded to steal second base in the one-run ballgame.
The 4,474 in attendance, 42nd-worst attended game Rockies history (excluding all of 2020), then saw Eric Young Sr. single to score Vander Wal from second and give Colorado some cushion. The 5-3 win put the Rockies into a tie for the lone NL Wild Card with the Phillies. From that day forward, they’d go 18-12 and make the postseason for the first time in franchise history.