In order to celebrate the Rockies 30th anniversary as an organization, Purple Row will be releasing some Top 30 lists throughout the season to relive some of the best times since the Rockies debuted in 1993. Up first, the top 30 moments in team history.
Back in 1993, things were pretty different in Colorado. The population was 3.56 million (now it’s over 5.8 million). Denver International Airport was two years away from opening, as was Coors Field.
Professional baseball has a storied history in Colorado with the minor league Denver Bears, who turned into Zephrys, and many more dating back to the 1800s. In 1993, Major League Baseball finally found a Mile High home. With 30 years of history in the books, here are Purple Row’s top 30 moments in team history. It was hard to narrow things down in a very subjective list, so we’ll start with some honorable mentions.
Todd Helton could have his own list of 30 top moments. He made our top 30 list three times, but other amazing things happened like his last homer at Coors Field (Sept. 25, 2013) and the following curtain call, his No. 17 being retired after 17 years in a Rockies uniform, his goodbye video, and his last game at Coors Field when his daughter threw out the first pitch and he was gifted a horse.
Gray’s 16 strikeouts
Jon Gray set the team record for most strikeouts in a game when he pitched a four-hit, complete-game shutout against the Padres on Sept. 17, 2016. He broke the 18-year-old record set by Darryl Kile and even had one of those remarkable occasions when he struck out four batters in the second inning.
Lansing cycles by 4th inning
He may not be the most famous Rockies in team history, but Mike Lansing made quick work of recording a cycle on June 18, 2000 at Coors Field against the Diamondbacks. He hit a triple in the first, a two-run homer in the second, a double in the third, and a single in the fourth. He totaled five RBI and scored three runs. He was traded later that season, but what a game.
The 22-inning affair
The Rockies have played their fair share of extra-inning thrillers, but this one in 2008 was unique for many reasons: it was 6 hours and 16 minutes, they won, and there were only three runs scored. Jeff Francis threw seven scoreless innings and the score remained locked at zero through 13 innings. After each team scored one run in the 14th, the game featured six more scoreless innings before Troy Tulowitzki hit the game-winning RBI double at Petco Park.
Top 30 Moments
Without further ado, here are our Top 30 moments compiled by the staff:
30. Arenado’s tarp catch
Nolan could also have his own top 30 moments, even just on defense. This one in foul territory in San Francisco in 2015 featured an amazing run, a full-body bounce on the tarp, and almost resulted in a double play. Even Giants fans cheered!
29. Galarraga’s moonshot
If only the Statcast Era had been around in 1997, it would have helped Andrés Galarraga have a concrete measurement. The Big Cat hit a grand slam off Kevin Brown into the third deck at Pro Player Stadium in Miami. The bomb was initially measured at 579 feet, then edited to 529, and, years later, ESPN would measure it at 404. Just using your eyeballs, it would be hard to believe this didn’t go over 500 feet!
28. CarGo homers in four-straight at-bats
On May 30, 2012, Carlos González hit three home runs in three-straight at-bats to lead the Rockies to a 13-5 win over Houston. In his first at-bat the next day, he hit another, making it four homers in four consecutive at-bats. The homers gave him 14 on the season through May and let Rockies fans see one of the best swings in the history of the game at its best.
27. Helton’s 2,500th career hit
In his final season, on Sept. 1, 2013, Helton collected his 2,500th hit in the form of a double against the Reds. He became the 96th player in MLB history to reach the 2,500-hit mark (101 have done it going into 2023) and finished his career with 2,519 total — 592 of them being doubles.
26. Fastest game in Coors Field history
Faster games will be a thing in 2023 around the league, but they have not been the norm for the Colorado Rockies. That is unless Aaron Cook was on the mound. The fast-working righty needed only 79 pitches on his way to a 4-0 complete game shutout that clocked in at one hour and 58 minutes in 2008. He gave up five hits, walked none, and struck out four, helping him earn a place on the NL All-Star team.
25. Daniel Bard’s comeback
The Rockies took a chance on Daniel Bard in 2020 and it paid off. Bard, a successful reliever for the Red Sox in 2010 when he posted a 1.93 ERA over 73 appearances, struggled with injuries in the years following. The yips sidelined his career after only two appearances in 2013. He left the game, started coaching, and then realized he still had it. In a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Bard posted 14 scoreless outings in 23 appearances with a 4-2 record, six saves, and a 3.65 ERA in 24 2⁄3 innings, earning the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award.
24. Márquez’s 8 up, 8 struck out
Germán Márquez’s dominance was on display when he struck out the first eight batters he faced against the Phillies on Sept. 26, 2018. He tied a modern-day MLB record (since 1900), becoming only the third pitcher to fan the first eight batters. The streak was broken when Nick Pivetta hit a grounder to Márquez, who then committed an error. He recovered by striking out Carlos Santana to post nine strikeouts in the first three innings. He totaled 11 strikeouts in the 14-0 win and took over as the single-season strikeout king in Rockies history (he went on to post 230, a record that still stands).
23. Chad Bettis returns after cancer
After beating cancer once, Chad Bettis returned to spring training in 2017, only to find out it had returned. Bettis battled through another round of chemotherapy and made his season debut on Aug. 14 against the Braves at Coors Field. Welcomed back by a standing ovation, Bettis put on a show, throwing seven scoreless innings with six hits, no walks, and two strikeouts. He went on to play parts of two more seasons with the Rockies, but will always be a fan favorite.
22. Spilly’s walk-off grand slam
Few home run trots stand out, but Ryan Spilborghs’ sprint is famous. It came after Spilly hit the game-winner in the 14th inning against the Giants on Aug. 24, 2009. The win was part of a remarkable second half that helped the Rockies return to the postseason in a turbulent year that saw Jim Tracy take over after Clint Hurdle was fired. The Rockies lost to the Phillies 3-1 in the NLDS, but Spilly fueled a fun run.
21. Story homers twice in MLB debut
Trevor Story hammered his way into Rockies lore when he made his MLB debut at Chase Field on April 4, 2016 against Zack Greinke. During his second at-bat in the third inning, Story got his first hit in the form of a three-run, opposite-field shot. The next inning he went deep again with a 439-foot solo shot. Story became the first player in MLB history to hit two homers in his MLB debut. He went on to hit six homers in his first four games, etching his name in the MLB record books with another first.
20. Márquez pitches in Coors All-Star Game
A surprise relocation brought the 2021 All-Star Game to Coors Field and led to a beautiful sight: Márquez making his first All-Star appearance in front of his home crowd. Márquez was 7-6 with a 3.59 ERA at the All-Star break, riding a 2.42 ERA and posting a 4-1 record in June. Márquez put up a scoreless, hitless All-Star performance, striking out Salvador Pérez to end his perfect inning.
19. Jiménez starts All-Star Game
Ubaldo Jiménez, who you’ll see later in this list, put up a monster season in 2010. He posted a 2.88 ERA and a 19-7 record. At the All-Star break, Jiménez was 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA, averaging eight strikeouts per nine innings. Having the most wins at the break since David Wells in 2000, Jimenez is the only Rockie to start the Midsummer Classic. Edging out Adam Wainwright and Roy Halladay, Jimenez made the most of his shot, throwing two scoreless innings with two hits, one walk, and one strikeout.
18. Freeland’s almost-no-hitter
In his rookie 2017 campaign, 24-year-old Kyle Freeland took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the White Sox on July 9 at Coors Field. He struck out nine and walked three in 8 1⁄3 innings before giving up a single Melky Cabrera in the ninth. Freeland threw 126 pitches and Jordan Lyle finished off the game to seal a 10-0 victory.
17. Márquez’s Maddux
Márquez took a no-hitter into the ninth against the Pirates on July 29, 2021 at Coors Field, but then surrendered a leadoff single to Ka’ai Tom. Tom was immediately erased in a double play and Márquez recorded the second complete game shutout of his career. Even better, he completed a Maddux — an achievement more rare than a no-hitter when a pitcher does their best Greg Maddux impression to pitch a complete-game shutout with fewer than 100 pitches.
16. Fogg faces the minimum
In a two-hit, one-walk 2-0 win over the Mariners in Seattle in 2006, Josh Fogg only faced 27 batters, the fewest that can step up to the plate in a game. The game was eight minutes shy of two hours. Fogg, aka the Dragon Slayer, induced 13 ground-ball outs and struck out one in a matchup against future Rockie Jamie Moyer. The two hits and the walk were both erased by ground balls.
15. Quarter-mile club
Story smashed three homers in one game to lead the Rockies to a 5-3 win over the Giants in 2015. The first one made him fall over. The second went 505 feet, the longest (at the time) in the Statcast Era. He totaled 1,380 feet of distance between the three solo shots that all hit various parts of the left field bleachers and pavilion at Coors Field.
14. CarGo’s walk-off cycle
González made history with five noteworthy at-bats on July 31, 2010 against the Cubs. He singled in the first, tripled in the third, doubled in the fifth, and hit a sac fly in the seventh to put the Rockies up 5-2. The next time he came to the plate, the score was tied and he led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off homer to complete the cycle—the first walk-off cycle in Rockies history.
13. Arenado’s walk-off cycle on Father’s Day
Seven years later, Arenado “went CarGo,” in the words of Drew Goodman. Arenado went in a different order: triple, single, double, and strikeout to arrive at the plate in the ninth inning with runners on the corners and trailing the Giants 5-3. The celebration at the plate left Arenado bleeding from the face in an iconic image that will forever symbolize his hardcore work ethic.
12. Wild Card win in 13
After falling in a Game 163 that would have given the Rockies their first NL West Division title (they lost 5-2 to the Dodgers), the Rockies faced the Cubs in a one-game Wild Card for a place in the NLDS. The Rockies took a 1-0 lead in the first when Charlie Blackmon led off with a walk, DJ LeMahieu followed with a double, and Arenado hit a sac fly. Freeland pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings against a potent Cub lineup and the game went to extra innings locked at 1-1. In the 13th, Story and Gerardo Parra hit back-to-back two-out singles before Tony Freaking Wolters posted the go-ahead RBI with a single up the middle. Scott Oberg, who recorded a strikeout in the 12th, then struck out three batters in the 13th to seal the win!
11. Walker wins 1997 MVP
Larry Walker could also have a Top 30 list all to himself. A true five-tool player, there are numerous highlights to pick from, but his 1997 season is the best in Rockies history, earning a Rockies player their first and only NL MVP award. He hit .366/.452/.720 with 130 RBI, had the infamous All-Star at-bat vs. Randy Johnson when he flipped his helmet around and momentarily hit right-handed, and hit 49 homers, which is tied with Helton for the most in a single season in team history. He got that 49th homer in the season finale.
10. Tulo’s unassisted triple play
In the first month of a season that would later become the Rockies best in franchise history, a rookie shortstop made one of the most unbelievable plays in team history. The 22-year-old Troy Tulowitzki caught a line drive off the bat of Chipper Jones, stepped on second base, and tagged Edgar Renteria to handle the inning all on his own. It’s still ridiculous to watch!
11. Playoffs in 3
In only their third season of existence and first at Coors Field, the Rockies became the fastest expansion team to make it to the playoffs. With the help of the first season of MLB having a Wild Card, the Rockies clinched the playoff berth in the season finale. Down 8-6 to the Giants in the fifth inning, Walker, Galarraga, Vinny Castilla, and Walt Wiess led a four-run rally for the Rockies 36th comeback win of the year. The Rockies fell 3-1 to the Braves in the NLDS, but created baseball fever in Denver in the process!
8. Helton’s historic walk-off
In the moment, this was amazing, but the legend grew as it became the catalyst of Rocktober. On Sept. 18, 2007, the Rockies had already beaten the Dodgers in Game 1 of a doubleheader. They were down 8-7 in Game 2 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and Matt Holliday on first. Helton went yard for one of, if not the most, epic walk-offs in team history. It marked a sweep of the Dodgers and was the eighth walk-off of the season for the Rockies. It marked the third win in a 14-1 stretch over the last 15 games of the season to earn a place in Game 163.
7. Phillies swept in NLDS
After earning their first playoff berth since 1995, the Rockies made quick work of the Phillies, sweeping them with wins of 4-2 and 10-5 in Philadelphia before returning to Colorado to take the series with a 2-1 victory. Pinch-hitter Jeff Baker hit the tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning to punch the Rockies ticket to the NLDS.
6. Bichette christens Coors Field
The first game at Coors Field was legendary. In the 14th inning, Dante Bichette hit a walk-off homer to beat the Mets 11-9 in 14 innings with 47,228 fans losing their collective minds in their new ballpark. With his fist pump celebration, he laid the groundwork for the Blake Street Bombers. Oddly enough, Bichette’s homer was the only of the game for the Rockies, making it the first in Coors Field history by a Colorado Rockie.
5. EY starts with a bang
In front of 80,227 fans at Migh High Stadium with countless more watching on TV and listening on the radio, Eric Young Sr. set the course for Rockies history. In the Rockies first at-bat as an MLB team in the Mile High City, Young hit a homer to left field. A leadoff hitter, Young totaled only 79 homers in his career (which averages out to seven per 162 games) The Rockies went on to defeat Larry Walker and the Expos 11-4 in a magical atmosphere that helped Walker decide he wanted to play in Colorado in 1995.
4. Ubaldo’s no-hitter
It’s only happened once in Rockies history, and it belongs to Ubaldo Jiménez. On April 17, 2010 vs. the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, Jiménez struck out seven and walked six in a 128-pitch 4-0 win. It paved the way for his magical 2010 campaign and etches Jiménez’s name as one of the best pitchers in Rockies history, even if he only played five and a half seasons in Colorado.
3. Walker gets the Hall Call
Sporting a SpongeBob shirt that said, “Ain’t no ordinary sponge,” Walker finally got the call fitting for no ordinary five-tool baseball star: he was headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame. As a tribute to that day, Walker wore a SpongeBob pin on his suit for the ceremony in Cooperstown. The pandemic delayed the ceremony to 2021, the same year the Rockies retired his No. 33. Outside of his MVP in 1997, Walker won three batting titles (1998, 1999, and 2001) and five Gold Glove Awards in right field during his 1995-2004 tenure with the Rockies.
2. Helton hoists the glove
In a moment that was practically perfect in every way, Helton made the final out in the Rockies 4-0 sweep of the Diamondbacks in the NLCS, creating the most iconic picture in Rockies history. The out earned the Rockies their lone NL pennant and was the 21st win in a 22-game stretch that made Rocktober the best era in team history. Holliday hit a three-run homer in the 6-4 win in Game 4, helping him earn NLCS MVP honors. Fogg and Jeff Francis shined in the solid starts in the series and Manny Corpas added a win of his own with two saves to send the Rockies to the World Series. The Rockies lost their momentum with eight days off before facing Boston and being swept in the Fall Classic. But the Rocktober run is not only one of the best moments in Rockies history, but in Colorado sports history.
1. Game 163
After the magical run in 2007, it’s only fitting that the Rockies postseason hopes would hang on Game 163 and then, of course, go to 13 innings. Against the Padres at Coors Field, the Rockies blew a 3-0 lead and then a 6-5 lead to force extra innings. In the top of the 13th, the Padres put up two runs to go up 8-6. With future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman on the mound, the Rockies came back again. Kaz Matsui and Troy Tulowitzki started off the inning with back-to-back doubles, and then Matt Holliday hit a triple to tie the game. That’s when Jamey Carroll made history with a sac fly to bring in Holliday. He definitely touched home plate.
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With 30 years, there are so many memorable moments and we definitely couldn’t get them all. Let us know what else stands out to you from 1993 through the 2022 season!