Long before shortstop Trevor Story donned a Colorado Rockies uniform, he was just a kid who fell hopelessly in love with baseball. And, as an impressionable young player himself, he looked up to some of the greats of the game and an almost-teammate to help shape his dream of playing in the bigs.
“Derek Jeter was definitely my favorite player growing up,” Story said. “I really liked Cal Ripken Jr., really those two guys. Really, I love Ken Griffey Jr. too.”
When he was little, he even mimicked their signature moves.
“We always played this game, left-handed baseball in our neighborhood and (Griffey) was my guy, I was always trying to be like him,” Story said. “I was practicing the jump throw from Jeter and I use it today and practice it every day. I take little things from each person’s game and try to see if I can put it into my game.”
Of course, the jump throw became a staple of a shortstop Rockies fans are extra familiar with.
“Those were my guys growing up,” Story said of Jeter and Griffey. “And Troy Tulowitzki, as well.”
Not long before the 24-year-old Story made his big league debut with Colorado, Tulowitzki starred at short and helped the Rockies to a 2007 World Series appearance. In Story’s early days playing defense in the majors, the similarities between his style and that of Tulowitzki have been undeniable.
Whether Story is diving or leaping, any avid Rockies fan can see a little Tulo when they watched the rookie sensation in action.
“When I got to high school he was really kind of the guy who I tried to emulate,” Story said. “It was just pretty cool that I got drafted by the Rockies and he reached out to me and really kind of became a mentor for me. He’s helped me out a lot and I’m very thankful for him doing that for me.”
More so than skill, Tulowitzki taught Story how to approach each day, which often can be the most important piece to the puzzle.
“I think the biggest thing that he taught me is the intensity in which he practices,” Story said. “If you watch him practice—I think Nolan kind of did it too, I don’t know how Nolan was before that—he’s just very intense with the way he takes ground balls and all the work that he does lifting and with batting practice. He’s on a mission, definitely quality over quantity.”
Before the Tulowitzki era of Story’s life, the Yankees legend Jeter dominated his shortstop aspirations.
“Jeter was the ultimate leader,” Story said. “You couldn’t really find anything bad about him. He was always doing his work. He’s just a winner. Obviously he played shortstop and I really liked the way he played shortstop—an offensive-minded shortstop.”
And, as with many players in the league today, Story said he’s always looked up to Griffey, who inadvertently helped inspire Story’s productivity at the plate.
“He was really talented, a sweet swing,” Story said. “Everybody loves that swing. He was just really fun to watch for me, and I would always emulate his swing.”
As for Ripken, Story said his longevity and ability to play in 2,632 consecutive games across 16 years—a league record—emboldens him every day to play with the same passion.
“Obviously his durability is unbelievable,” Story said. “Playing shortstop that many games in a row is pretty unheard of, and I think it’s a record that’ll never be broken.”
Should Story ever want to test out his own longevity on the field, he’ll have to wait until next season. In the midst of his record-setting rookie year with the Rockies, Story suffered a torn ligament in his left thumb after sliding into second base and then diving for a ground ball a few innings later.
Since late July, he hasn’t seen any action. That’s not to say he didn’t make quick work of the time that he did have while he was still healthy.
Just six games into his major league career, Story quickly wrote his name in the history books by hitting a home run in each of those contests. Although he competed in only 97 games, Story still finished the season ranked first in home runs (27) and tied for the lead in runs batted in (72) among all rookies.
His 27 jacks broke the record for the most by any rookie shortstop in National League history, surpassing—you guessed it—Tulowitzki.
In April, Story was named NL rookie of the month when he hit 10 home runs and knocked in 20 runs. His 10 homers tied for the most in MLB history for a rookie in April and were the most for any NL rookie.
Story has laid the foundation for a career that could one day be similar to the players he looked up to while growing up. Now the key is staying healthy—something Griffey and Tulowitzki couldn’t do consistently.
Still, Story’s magical debut combined with his skillset should have kids around Colorado and the nation looking up to him as he did to his idols.