In the wake of the 1994 players’ strike that caused the cancellation of the World Series, part of the collateral damage for the small market Montréal Expos was the need to cut costs on what was already the second-lowest payroll in MLB.
After trading closer John Wetteland to the New York Yankees, even more Expos players, including three All-Stars, moved on from a Montréal club staked to the best record on the final game of the season on August 11, 1994: Ken Hill signed with St. Louis as a free agent; Marquis Grissom was dealt to division rival Atlanta; and Larry Walker was declined arbitration, making him a free agent one year early.
Days after an agreement was struck between MLB and the MLB Players’ Association, the Rockies signed lucrative deals with both Walker and starting pitcher Bill Swift, only a year off a second-place finish for the National League Cy Young Award with San Francisco.
With these two signings, Colorado actually nabbed the top two free agents of the offseason according to bWAR over the past three seasons: Walker (14.5) and Swift (11.3).
While he was second in bWAR among Rockies’ starters (2.2) in his first season in purple, Swift struggled throughout the three-year, $13.15M deal to find the same success in the Rocky Mountains as he had on the West Coast.
At four-years and $22M, Colorado got an incredible bargain in the Canadian born outfielder, as Walker would go on to win the NL MVP in 1997, earn two Silver Sluggers, make four All-Star Games and gain five Gold Gloves during his ten seasons with the Rockies.
Ten years after hanging up his spikes and in the final year on the ballot of the Baseball Writers’ Association of American, Walker was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this year and will be enshrined with an interlocked C-R on his cap to signify his career in Denver.
On This Date
Trevor Story continued his torrid first week as a big leaguer with two home runs in his first game at Coors Field in the 13-6 loss to San Diego back in 2016. The long ball extended his streak to four games, making Story the first player in Major League history to hit home runs in each of the first four games of his career.
The 23 year-old rookie shortstop became the fifth player to homer in four consecutive contests to start a season, a feat also accomplished by Chris Davis (Orioles, 2013), Nelson Cruz (Rangers, 2011), Mark McGwire (Cardinals, 1998), and Willie Mays (Giants, 1971).
With the multi-homer game, Story’s six dingers are the most in history across a team’s first four games of a season. The offensive onslaught would later result him being named the NL Rookie of Month for April.
In 2003, Todd Helton went 4-for-4 along with three walks to set a club record by reaching base in all seven plate appearances in Colorado’s 15-12 loss in 13 innings at Coors Field. In the same game, Chris Stynes set a franchise mark for most plate appearances in a game with eight.
Aaron Cook twirls a nine-inning incomplete games in what is the shortest extra inning road game (2:27) in Rockies history. The 2-1 loss in San Diego ends with a walk-off for the Padres in the 10th inning and remains the most recent of the six nine-inning complete games in franchise history.
On This Day In Baseball History
At Philadelphia’s Shibe Park, the first legal baseball game in the big leagues is played in 1934 between the Phillies and Athletics. Nearly 15,000 fans witness the exhibition game pitting the two hometown clubs against one another.