The man who sports one of baseball’s G.O.A.T. goatees was back in Denver on Friday. Todd Helton, widely considered the best player in Rockies franchise history, returned to the Mile High City along with most of his teammates from the 2007 season to remember Rocktober.
It’s been 10 years since the 2007 Rockies ripped off 21 wins in 22 games to get into the playoffs and go all the way to the World Series. To celebrate, 18 members of that team were honored in a pre-game ceremony at Coors Field before the Rockies took on the Padres.
Helton, who retired in 2013 after 17 seasons as a Rockie, took some time to reflect on that magical run.
“When they called me they told me about the reunion, I couldn’t believe it’d been 10 years,” Helton said. “Looking back, it was a great time in our lives. To see everybody’s faces, it was great. We were such a tight-knit group. To see them and we don’t skip a beat, it’s like we were playing 10 years ago.”
Helton, Jeff Francis, Brad Hawpe and others stood on the field and soaked in highlights on the big board in left. The reunion gave Helton a chance to catch up with some of his old teammates, including Josh Fogg, the journeyman righty who earned the nickname “Dragon Slayer” after repeatedly out-dueling other team’s aces during that run.
“Seeing Josh Fogg and thinking of the meeting we had before the 163rd game, Hurdle announces to the team that Fogg is pitching,” Helton recalled. “And we all moan that we have no chance, and we’re never going to win. And he went out there and pitched and gave us a chance to win the ballgame. And we did.”
The Rockies famously defeated the San Diego Padres 9-8 in 13 innings in the one-game playoff. Rockies skipper Bud Black managed the Padres back then. Black likened Colorado’s red-hot run into the playoffs to a moment from a 1969 Western movie.
“You ever see the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?” Black asked. “Who’s seen that movie? You remember when (Paul) Newman and (Robert) Redford looked over their shoulder and said, ‘Who are those guys?’ We kept thinking, ‘Did those guys win again?’ It was incredible. But looking back at it, what an accomplishment. It’s not unlike what the Indians are going through.”
Rocktober culminated in a four-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS. The enduring image of the series was Helton squatting down and raising his hands to the sky after helping record the final out.
“We just got hot,” Helton said. “It wasn’t one person. It wasn’t two people. It was all 25 of us. It took all 25 of us to pull it off.”
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