Other than the traditional post-game handshakes that punctuate a win at Coors Field, at no point during Tuesday’s 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres did the Colorado Rockies unveil any celebratory ritual.
Some clubs will bestow players with a football helmet, cowboy hat or a suit jacket following a home run, while others will give teammates a spin through the dugout in a laundry cart during the game.
To this point in the season, the Rockies opt for a celebration post-game by honoring the stand-out player or staff member with the MVP chain.
But now, there’s a new unifying item in their clubhouse.
“I came in wearing Crocs and (Austin) Gomber definitely noticed, (Lucas) Gilbreath noticed,” Chad Kuhl said of his choice in footwear. “A few people took notice.”
The first-year pitcher with Colorado is having a solid season on the mound, leading all starting pitchers with a 4.02 ERA.
Since athletes are always looking for an edge, stealing from the best whenever someone is playing well can prove helpful for everyone (and be quite complementary to one party in particular).
Following Kuhl’s outstanding three-hit performance on June 27 against the best team in the National League, the entire clubhouse became a bit superstitious and curious of the produce on his feet.
“I was joking with him, ‘Wow, you wore Crocs to the field and then you go nine shutout innings against the Dodgers,’ Gilbreath recalled. “He’s like, ‘Well, maybe everybody should wear Crocs to the field.’ And that’s when we got talking.”
With his trusty iPad used for breaking down game film of opposing batters and personal pitching mechanics, Gilbreath created a spreadsheet to capture all the necessary details for what was about to happen next.
While going around to every player on the Rockies’ roster to catalog their shoe size and jersey number, he also reached out to Crocs. A neighbor of his parents who was an executive with the foam clog manufacturer and the opportunity to partner with the local baseball nine was too good for the company to pass up.
“They were really excited and we were obviously really excited,” Gilbreath said of the union. “I think we’re gonna have to do a team photo or something at some point with all the Crocs on. I think the guys love them. So it’s been awesome.”
Crocs, a Colorado company founded in Boulder and headquartered in Broomfield, produced their first shoe in 2001 and were being traded on NASDAQ just five years later.
“I remember when they first came out. Everybody was a little skeptical,” Gilbreath joked about the Classic Clog. “I’m a huge Crocs guy now. I used to play hockey and that’s what all the hockey guys wore. You’d slip them on and you’d wear them to the ice, put your skates on. They got huge in hockey.”
But it wasn’t just a simple order that was delivered to 2001 Blake Street.
“We got a text that they had arrived,” Kuhl explained. “Gilly went in and put everybody’s numbers on them and we all passed them out. Gilly facilitated it, did most of the legwork and came through for everybody.”
“He did all that?,” exclaimed manager Bud Black upon learning the details of what went into the latest craze inside the Rockies’ clubhouse.
On Tuesday, with good vibes emanating from Colorado’s side of the ballpark following a 5-3 win over the Padres, every locker was adorned with a purple pair of Crocs fashioned with the digits appearing on the back of the player’s jersey. Some even had a few extra baubles.
“Jibbitz,” Gilbreath clarified. “I ordered like 500 random Jibbitz. They’re pretty funny. We’re grown men and it’s a little childish, but I love it. I think it’s pretty fun.”