MLB Memory Lane – July 3, 1999
I went to a lot of baseball games before I started working in baseball. MLB Memory Lane is a look back at some of those games.
This week: A midsummer trip to Denver included a stop at Coors Field.
Date: July 3, 1999
Teams: San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies
Stadium: Coors Field
Seat Location: First base side in the top deck
The summer of 1999 was a weird time for me. It is the only summer since 1995 that I was not involved in baseball. I had wrapped up my first season as the radio announcer for the Green Bay Gamblers, a hockey team in the USHL, and by this point of the summer I was really, really bored.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to get into my blue Ford Taurus and take a road trip. My journey took me to visit high school friends who had since moved from Wisconsin to Denver, Colorado.
After catching up for a few days someone brought up the idea of going to a Rockies game. This was at a time when tickets were difficult to get. But, a rain out earlier in the season – and baseball’s aversion to the traditional doubleheader – gave us an opportunity to catch the day game of a Day-Night doubleheader at Coors Field against the San Diego Padres.
It was the opportunity to see a game at Coors Field and spend time with friends whom I had not seen in a long time that made me want to go, because the starting pitching matchup was Woody Williams against Roberto Ramirez.
My Coors Field experience was everything I expected because the Rockies were up a 7-0 after the third inning. (NOTE: This was pre-humidor.)
I was still taking in my surroundings in the bottom of the first when Larry Walker launched this laser to right field. The ball would have gone through the wall had it not gone over it. Then, Colorado put up six runs in the second inning.
The first three runs scored by Colorado in the second inning came in on a home run by Neifi Perez. Three batters later Vinny Castilla hit another three run homer for the 7-0 lead.
Keep in mind, I could go whole seasons of games at old Milwaukee County Stadium without seeing three homers. Now, I see the home team hit three in their first two at bats in my first game at Coors Field. I knew I had stepped into a different place.
“Don’t worry, this thing isn’t even close to over yet”, my friends knowingly told me.
So, of course, the Padres score four runs in the top of the third on a pair of two-run homers. Phil Nevin’s homer didn’t surprise me. It was the one by Ruben Rivera that caught me off guard.
Colorado scored again in the bottom of the third as former Brewer Darryl Hamilton singled in Kirt Manwaring for an 8-4 lead.
The Rockies pushed the lead to 11-4 with three more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Kurt Abbott hit a two-run homer after Todd Helton had doubled. Then, Manwaring tripled…yes, Kirt Manwaring tripled…and Neifi Perez singled in Manwaring for his fourth RBI of the game.
I think I was walking around the stadium to get photos on my disposable camera while the Padres rallied in the fifth when Wally Joyner hit a two-run homer.
It was a shock when Padres reliever Carlos Almanzar pitched a scoreless bottom of the fifth inning. It was a bigger shock when Dan Miceli, who I would much later learn played for the Appleton Foxes, tossed a scoreless sixth.
At this point I was back at the seats and it was my turn to buy. I went to the concession stand on the upper level and ordered three Coors Lights. I paid for the brews and the concessions worker gave them to me. I started to walk away when a security guard or supervisor, yelled, “STOP! You were only supposed to get two!”
I didn’t say it, but he must have seen the look on my face as the universal language for “What do you mean I’m only supposed to get two? Don’t you realize that I’m from Wisconsin?”
He explained the – at the time foreign concept – that individual people may only purchase two beers at a time when going to the concession stand. But, since I already had the beers and it was the fault of the worker, he let me go back to the seats with a beer for me and one for the other two friends who wanted one.
Nothing sinister, but odd.
I did get back to my seat in time for the Padres four run rally against Jerry DiPoto and Curtis Leskanic in the top of the seventh. DiPoto got the first out, but loaded the bases on a double and two walks. Ruben Rivera doubled in two runs and it was 11-8. On came Leskanic to allow a run to score on a Dave Magadan RBI grounder. Then, Damian Jackson singled in one more run to make it 11-10.
The Padres bullpen couldn’t hold out forever. There were two outs and Hamilton was on second base in the bottom of the seventh. Vinny Castilla tripled. I say again, for the love of Alexander Cartwright, Vinny Castilla tripled!
I don’t know what game I watched that day, but it sure as heckfire wasn’t baseball.
It was still 12-10 heading to the Padres ninth and Colorado went to Dave Veres.
Veres gets the first out and the sound guy at Coors Field plays the opening riff to Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh. Then, Ruben Rivera singled for his third hit of the game.
Dave Magadan flew out and the sound guy cranks up a little bit more of Rocky Mountain Way.
The game is on the line and the Padres have the pitcher’s spot due up. On comes John Vander Wal. Vander Wal was a former Rockie and was one of the best pinch hitters from that era.
But on this day, Veres won the battle and Rocky Mountain Way was cranked all the way up as the Rockies celebrated the win!
Made loud to be played loud!
San Diego Padres Colorado Rockies 1. Veras 2b Perez ss 2. Owens lf Hamilton cf 3. Sanders rf Walker rf 4. Nevin c Castilla 3b 5. Joyner 1b Helton 1b 6. Ruben Rivera cf Echevarria lf 7. Arias 3b Abbott 2b 8. Jackson ss Manwaring c 9. Williams p Ramirez p
Reggie Sanders: 4-for-5, 2 2Bs, 2 RUNS
Ruben Rivera: 3-for-5, 2 RUNS, 3 RBI
Neifi Perez: 2-for-4, 4 RBI
Vinny Castilla: 3-for-5, 4 RBI
Kirt Manwaring: 4-for-5, 3 RUNS
SD: Eric Owens, Phil Nevin, Ruben Rivera, Wally Joyner
COL: Larry Walker, Neifi Perez, Vinny Castilla, Kurt Abbott
That’s eight home runs. That’s more than enough for this week.
Past MLB Memory Lane entries:
Rally against The Eck & Walkoff the A’s (1989)