The 2023 Winter Meetings netted one roster addition and the No. 3 pick in the 2024 MLB Draft for the Colorado Rockies. Outside of some quotes from GM Bill Schmidt and manager Bud Black about growing the bench, while at the same time not addressing the already crowded outfield, the Rockies plan of quietly building for the future continues this offseason.
While there could be more moves coming, there was other Rockies-related news to come out of Nashville this week as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced a new game hitting Cooperstown in 2024: The East-West Classic, a tribute to the Negro Leagues All-Star Game.
Coinciding with a new Hall of Fame Museum exhibit, The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball, the game will played at famous Doubleday Field over Memorial Day weekend and feature former Rockies Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond, and LaTroy Hawkins.
Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr., Ozzie Smith, and Fergie Jenkins will be serving as managers and coaches with rosters that include captains CC Sabathia and Chris Young, as well as recently retired stars like Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, David Price, Dontrelle Willis, Justin Upton, Curtis Granderson, and more.
Announcing the star-studded roster for the Hall of Fame East-West Classic: A Tribute to the Negro Leagues All-Star Game!— National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ⚾ (@baseballhall) December 5, 2023
THREAD ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/yX8WXTibBd
Sabathia and Young were instrumental in putting the rosters together and Sabathia even told MLB Network that he’s rehabbing his shoulder to be able to pitch an inning in the May 25 contest.
Fowler was drafted by the Rockies in 2004 and made his MLB debut on Sept. 2, 2008. He became a staple in center field for the next five years, making great plays and swiping bases. He still ranks No. 2 in Rockies history with 53 triples. Fowler, who will be 38 in 2024, retired following the 2021 season and now works in TV, serving as an analyst for the Cubs for Marquee Sports Network.
Hawkins had two stints with the Rockies in his 21-year career, pitching out of the Colorado bullpen in 2007 and in 2014-15 before the Rockies shipped him to Toronto with Troy Tulowitzki. Hawkins, who will be 52 years old when the game is played, is still very active in the baseball world and even managed the American League squad in the Futures Game during the All-Star Weekend at Coors Field in 2021.
Desmond played three seasons with the Rockies from 2017-2019 before sitting out the shortened 2020 season and retiring in 2021. Desmond, now 38, was the Rockies Roberto Clemente Award nominee for every year he was in Colorado as the “player who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”
The East-West Classic was held annually from 1933-62, and sometimes multiple games were played each year, bringing the biggest stars of the Negro Leagues together. The star-studded lineups included Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard, and many more.
The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball exhibit is part of the Black Baseball Initiative, which includes “additional outreach programs, educational materials and virtual programming.” It will focus more on first-person accounts, artifacts, and photos, and will have interactive elements for visitors to explore.
The goal of the exhibit is to tell a more complete story of the history of baseball in America, focusing on Black baseball before and during the Negro Leagues, through reintegration, and to “Show that Black baseball was the creation of Black America, not a shadow of white baseball and white America.”
Griffey Jr. narrates a great overview of the exhibit.
The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball will center powerful first-person perspectives of the players and pioneers who lived it.— National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ⚾ (@baseballhall) December 5, 2023
The new permanent exhibit will open May 25, 2024, in Cooperstown. https://t.co/RiyF05kfzE pic.twitter.com/fRmmYjUZ46
The 2024 tribute to the East-West Classic will be a historic game and it’s pretty cool that three former Rockies will be a part of it.
★ ★ ★
Also flying under the radar at the Winter Meetings, the Rockies brought home honors in the 39th annual Scout of the Year Awards as Colorado Rockies Vice President of International Scouting and Development Rolando Fernandez won International Scout of the Year. Fernandez has held his current title for 10 seasons and worked for the Rockies organization almost from the very beginning (31 years). With the award, Fernandez became the fifth scout in team history to win Scout of the Year honors. Two former winners have since moved up higher in the front office: current GM Bill Schmidt (2019 West Coast Scout of the Year) and current Vice President and Assistant General Manager of Scouting Danny Montgomery (2018 East Coast Scout of the Year).
Reflecting on the Juan Soto Yankees-Padres deal, Tyler Kepner’s list includes a final item that Rockies fans can never forget: Dealing Nolan Arenado and $50 million to the Cardinals in 2021. Kepner’s verdict is hard to argue with when he asks, “What were the Rockies thinking?” That rings true, especially when Kepner explains the team’s next moves: the Kris Bryant’s seven-year, $182 million deal in 2022 and the worst record in team history in 2023.
While this article doesn’t specifically mention the Rockies or Bill Schmidt, reporter Stephanie Apstein might as well have. In watching clips of interviews from the Winter Meetings, I thought to myself, does Bill Schmidt always wear the same gray pullover? I am glad I am not the only one who’s noticed the trend. Apstein says, “I raise this issue because nearly all baseball executives dress almost identically: dark quarter-zip pullover sweater over light polo shirt—one of the two tends to be team-branded—atop technical pants posing as chinos and finished with dress sneakers.” If you haven’t noticed before, you will now.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!