The fifth of a five-part series celebrating the top 25 memories, players, milestones and headlines of the first quarter-century of Coors Field.
No. 5, Humidor brings a tinge of normalcy to LoDo, April 26-May 2, 2002: Something funny was going on during the Rockies’ second homestand of the season. Balls weren’t rocketing off the bat with quite as much velocity, and outfielders were catching flyballs on the warning track instead of watching home runs fly over the wall.
During that six-game set, the Rockies swept three games from the Phillies (including a 4-1 victory with John Thomson on the mound) and three games from the Pirates (including back-to-back shutouts with Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle starting).
Former Denver Post Rockies beat writer Mike Klis figured something was up. Sure enough, he broke the story that the Rockies were storing baseballs in a humidor at Coors Field.
Statistics in 2007 illustrated how the humidor had altered “Coors Canaveral.” The number of home runs hit at Coors Field had dropped from 268 in 2001 (most in major league ballparks) to 185 in 2007 (ranking 10th). Runs overall were down as well, from 13.4 per game in 2001 to 10.6 in 2007.
No. 4, Dante Bichette’s frosty walk-off, April 26, 1995: The strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series had finally ended and Rockies fans were supercharged for the first game at their new ballpark. The first pitch was delivered at 5:38 p.m., the temperature was 42 degrees.
In the top of the 14th inning, Joe Orsulak’s RBI double put the Mets ahead, 9-8, setting the stage for Bichette’s heroics. With runners at first and second and one out, he stepped to the plate. Bichette hammered a 2-1 pitch off left-hander Mike Remlinger.
The game was nationally televised by ESPN, with Jon Miller providing the play-by-play, and Joe Morgan the color commentary.
“A high drive, way back, and there’s the storybook ending for the Rockies!” Miller shouted as Bichette’s blast landed halfway up the bleachers in left-center field for Colorado’s 11-9 victory.