In the 27 seasons of the Colorado Rockies, several speedy purple players have been seen sprinting along the base paths of Mile High Stadium and Coors Field.
Eric Young Sr once led the National League in stolen bases with 53 in 1996; Dexter Fowler and Charlie Blackmon each sat atop all of MLB with 14 triples in 2010 and 2017, respectively; and the Rockies are among only six franchises with three players to have a 30-30 season (30 home runs and 30 stolen bases): Ellis Burks, Dante Bichette and Trevor Story.
Yet, when it comes to the first triple in franchise history, that distinction goes to catcher Joe Girardi.
Selected with the 19th pick in the 1992 Expansion Draft from the Chicago Cubs, Girardi provided stability behind the plate during his three years with Colorado. He’d go on to gain much more notoriety with the New York Yankees as he’d win three World Series as well as catch a no-hitter and a perfect game before winning another ring as the Yankees manager in 2009.
At 5’11” and just shy of 200 pounds, Girardi had more speed than most catchers his size. So, when he knocked a fly ball off Expos’ starter Dennis Martinez into the right-center gap of Mile High Stadium during the fifth inning of a 9-5 Rockies victory, those who knew him best were not surprised when he legged out the run-scoring triple, the very first three-bagger in franchise history.
On This Day
While any number of defensive plays can be considered impressive or even memorable, there is simply no statistic to capture such excellence. A triple play, however, can be tracked. And it’s always fantastic.
In 2003, Colorado turned the first triple play in team history. Todd Helton nabbed a line drive and quickly tossed the ball to shortstop Jose Hernandez, who stepped on second and tagged the runner on first base to complete the special.
Following Jason Marquis, who doubled against the Phillies in his Home Opener start on this date in 2009, Tyler Matzek became the second Rockies starting pitcher to ever record an extra-base hit in a Home Opener back in 2015. Equally as amusing was the fact that manager Walt Weiss batted Matzek eighth in the order, the first time Colorado batted the pitcher anywhere other than ninth in the lineup.
Tony Wolters singles off James Shield in his second plate appearance during his first start for Colorado and the Rockies 6-3 victory over the Padres at home in 2016.
On This Day In Baseball History
In 1947, Dodgers’ president Branch Rickey issues a brief statement to the press during the sixth inning of an exhibition game against their minor league affiliate the Montréal Royals at Ebbets Field. With two simple sentences, he forever changes the game of baseball and, with it, society: “The Brooklyn Dodgers today purchased the contract of Jackie Roosevelt Robinson from the Montréal Royals. He will report immediately.”