Okay, I had to make the title that in order to optimize search engines and all that business but what I really wanted to say was OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dante Bichette is the Rockies’ hitting coach!!!!!! My Rockies nostalgia is exploding!!!!!!!
All right, time for some serious journalism. Who is Dante Bichette? If you don’t know that, you haven’t been around the Rockies very long. He is one of the originals, even more original than new manager Walt Weiss. He was traded from the Brewers to the new Colorado franchise almost 20 years ago to the day (November 17, 1992, to be exact). He was with the Rockies from day one, and was the third man in history to come to the plate wearing a Rockies uniform (following Eric Young and Alex Cole). He is perhaps best known for how he spent day one at Coors Field, April 26, 1995. With Joe Girardi and Andres Galarraga on base and one out, Bichette launched a Mike Remlinger pitch to deep left and won the game in a walk-off. No tried and true Rockies fan can forget the sight of Bichette power walking to first base, pumping his right fist in the air.
After that, Bichette went on to have an illustrious career with the Rockies, and he remains in the top 5 all-time in most offensive categories. (Ahead of him in most of those categories? A man he’ll be coaching this year – Todd Helton.) His 1995 season was also his best, in which he led the league in hits, home runs, and RBI. Alas, he finished second in MVP voting that year. I still haven’t forgiven Barry Larkin for finishing first.
Since his baseball career ended in 2001, Bichette has been a regular at Rockies’ fantasy camps while coaching his sons in baseball. His oldest, Dante Jr., is currently in the Yankees’ system.
So what makes Bichette a good hitting coach? Well, he was a power hitter at Coors, and didn’t I just say Weiss needed one of those? True, the humidor has been instituted since Bichette’s days, and that means the balls don’t fly out quite like they used to. Still, he knows the dimensions of the park and he knows how to hit to all fields. Also, he’s a student of hitting just like Jason Giambi, who was another candidate for the job. Bichette was famous in his playing days for how many times he had read Ted Williams‘s The Science of Hitting (ten, if I recall correctly). And as a veteran Rockie, he will have the respect of the players in ways a newer guy might not.
Truth be known, I will always stand behind these original Rockies, so I hope they don’t let me down. At the end of the day, Jim Tracy is still gone, and that’s what matters most.