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How the legend of Matt Holliday stacks up against other Rockies’ greats

Patrick Lyons Avatar
August 24, 2018

DENVER – Author Thomas Wolfe surmised, “you can’t go home again” in his 1940 posthumous novel of the same name.

Matt Holliday and the Colorado Rockies don’t care much for that idiom.

After nine years away from the Colorado Rockies with stops in Oakland, St. Louis and New York, Holliday has returned to Colorado, his home for the first five seasons of his illustrious career.

From 2004 to 2008, Holliday made three All-Star appearances, won three Silver Slugger Awards and won a batting title en route to 128 home runs for the Rockies.

During the 2008 offseason, poised with the possibility of losing their star outfielder to free agency after the next season, GM Dan O’Dowd traded Holliday to Oakland for a package of players that included Huston Street and Carlos Gonzalez.

After passing each between the Athletics and Rockies nearly a decade ago, the two outfielders now pass each other in the same locker room beneath Coors Field.

Back Home

Holliday isn’t the first player to spend time away from the Rockies only to come back some years later.

The first player to return was also one of the first Rockies players.

Reliever Steve Reed of the inaugural club in 1993 pitched in purple until 1997 before returning in the twilight of his career during the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Other Rockies players who have had multiple stints with the organization include Jamey Wright, LaTroy Hawkins, Franklin Morales, Jeff Francis, Manny Corpas, Jay Payton and current Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta.

Vinny Castilla departed and returned several times, both during his playing days and in his transition as a coach.

Castilla, another original Rockies player, left after 1999 to receive some moderate pay days with Tampa Bay and Atlanta before coming back to Colorado in 2004 and again in 2006.

Once his playing career concluded in 2006, the former third baseman was hired as a Special Assistant to the General Manager for the Rockies starting in 2014.

Dante Bichette, Walt Weiss, Eric Young, Alan Cockrell, Darren Holmes and Jeff Salazar also made the transition at Coors Field to coaching off the field from being a player on it.

Nothing But A Number

Much has been made about Holliday’s age of 38, but the Stillwater, Oklahoma native is far from the oldest player in Rockies history.

The most recent Rockies position player to appear this deep into his late thirties would be Todd Helton’s final season of 2013 when the 39-year-old first baseman suited up for 124 games with Colorado.

A search for outfielders of a similar age finds 35-year-old Ryan Raburn, who played 113 games in 2016, and 37-year-old Jay Payton, who strung together a handful of games in 2010.

The last time a Rockies outfielder was age 38 or older was Melvin Mora in 2010, when the former Orioles All-Star started four games in left field.

The oldest position player in franchise history was both an outfielder and a teammate of Holliday during the 2007 season: Steve Finley.

The veteran center fielder finished his nineteen-year career with Colorado at age 42. Finley appeared as a pinch hitter for starter Rodrigo Lopez in the fifth inning on June 3 that year against Reds SP Matt Belisle, marking his final game in the majors.

Holliday is far from the oldest player in Rockies history. Even if he decided to stick around for another decade, he’d still fall short of the franchise record for the oldest player to ever take the field for Colorado.

That record goes to starting pitcher Jamie Moyer, who tossed ten games with Colorado in 2012 as a comeback player recovering from Tommy John surgery as a 49-year-old.

Satchel Paige, the most ageless pitcher of all-time, a man who hurled three scoreless innings as a 58-year-old, often quipped, “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”

If Matt Holliday can deliver the production that the Rockies feel he can provide, it’s without any doubt that their first NL West pennant in franchise history will be the only thing that matters.


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