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Coors Field owes Jackie Robinson his gold ‘HOF’ honors

Colorado Rockies news and links for Tuesday, October 12, 2021

At Coors Field, the facing of the right field mezzanine is adorned with the Rockies’ retired numbers and notable accolades: ‘42’ for Jackie Robinson, ‘KSM’ for the late team president Keli McGregor, ‘17’ for Todd Helton, ‘33’ for Larry Walker, and ‘2007 NL Champs’.

Larry Walker’s 33 doesn’t look like the rest:

33 is the only one with a gold ring around it, marking his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The gold ring is the highest possible honor for a Colorado retired number — but at Coors Field, it’s also being withheld from a key individual.

Jackie Robinson has been in the Hall of Fame since 1962.

Robinson didn’t play for the Rockies, of course, but there is a glaring inaccuracy on the line of retired digits that cannot be unseen. It would have probably looked odd for Robinson to have ‘HOF gold’ on the mezzanine before a Rockies player, but it definitely looks out of place now that he doesn’t have it and somebody else does.

A re-unveiling is in order, and there is a perfect occasion to make it happen:

2022 Jackie Robinson Day

  1. Invite one of Robinson’s living family members to Coors Field next year when everybody wears 42 for Jackie Robinson Day (Friday, April 15 vs. CHC)
  2. Perform a re-unveiling of #42 with a gold ring

What better time to fix the Robinson inaccuracy than on his own day of recognition? It allows Walker the honor as the first Rockie, and it ensures the club is showing appropriate respect now that the ‘gold trim’ accent has been introduced.

A re-unveil on Jackie Robinson Day would help to justify why the Rockies haven’t put gold on 42 already.

Retired numbers: Is the number alone enough?

If Todd Helton is not inducted into the Hall of Fame, it won’t discredit what he meant to the Rockies organization. His #17 will hang at Coors Field for as long as the ballpark stands, already praised with the highest of organizational honor.

Except — is it suddenly a second-rate jersey retirement if he doesn’t make the Hall of Fame?

You won’t see a ‘gold ring’ treatment at other ballparks like Monument Park at Yankee Stadium — in part because most Yankees out there are already in the Hall of Fame — but a younger Rockies franchise has decided to get innovative as they build their retired numbers.

An elitist feature at Coors Field has been created in conjunction with a jersey retirement itself, already meant to be the pinnacle of franchise honor. There is now a super-jersey retirement on top of the standard retirement, which can create a rift in the sanctity for what a retired number represents.

Keli McGregor: McGregor Square is KSM’s gold ring

If both Robinson and Helton have their numbers adorned with gold trim, it will leave Keli McGregor as the only person left without gold.

It’s also important to note that McGregor Square is named after him, so he isn’t exactly overshadowed if he’s the only one without ‘HOF’ on the mezzanine. As the only one honored with letters instead of numbers, one could also argue that McGregor’s ‘KSM’ starts more of a conversation than the 42, 17 and 33 he’s surrounded by.

The retired number section can be spiced up

The Rockies have an admittedly small collection of retired numbers and featured accomplishments on the mezzanine, an understandable feature for a franchise that has yet to turn 30. The team can mix in some additional conversation starters to really honor the club’s legacy:

Add in the logos from the 1998 and 2021 All-Star Game.

Anybody that soaked in All-Star festivities in Denver would be able to see an immortalized reminder every time they make their way to 20th and Blake. We have a huge mural to commemorate the 1991 All-Star Game painted on Blake Street outside the ballpark for a similar motive.

For now, however, let’s focus on giving Robinson his due. If the Rockies faithful were so diligent in supporting Walker’s 10-year campaign for Cooperstown, the least we can do is show a similar respect for a player that earned it more than anybody else — ever.

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