We continue our look at the top 100 Colorado Rockies of all time in this article. Here, we look at No. 47 on our list, Dave Veres.
Even Bo Jackson, one of the greatest athletes of all-time, struggled to come back from a hip injury. So, what Dave Veres set out to do in 2007 that much more ambitious.
Veres became the first major league pitcher to play with a prosthetic hip. The reliever was living with so much pain in his hip with a bone spur, he decided to retire after the 2003 season after a nearly ten-year career.
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To set up some context for what Veres was trying to return to, he debuted with the Astros and like many other early Rockies players played for the Expos before coming to Denver.
Veres was a great addition to the Rockies bullpen when he came to Colorado in 1998 through 1999. He served as the Rockies closer in that time based on his immediate success in the early days of Coors Field.
He had pre-humidor numbers of 2.83 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 76.1 innings. That was good enough for 2.7 WAR. His immediate success and eight saves in 1998 propelled him into the closer’s role the next season.
That success didn’t translate to 1999 though as he struggled with a 5.38 ERA with a 4-8 record. He did record 31 saves with a 1.7 WAR. He then moved on to the Cardinals the next year and retired with the Cubs when he was 36 years old.
That’s what makes his attempted comeback, more admirable. His last Major League appearance he gave up a two-run double in Game 7 of the Marlins miraculous, and to Cubs fans, heart wrenching comeback in the 2003 NLCS. The pain became too much and he was released by the Cubs in 2004 after starting the season in the minors.
Veres said he couldn’t even play with his children he was experiencing so much pain in his hip. After the surgery, he could play pick-up ball and that sparked his desire to return to pro ball.
In 2007, he signed a minor-league contract for the Rockies as the Rockies needed more insurance behind Brian Fuentes in the closer role. He reported to Spring Training but only played five games in Colorado Springs. The comeback was thwarted but he did play for the York Revolution in an independent league.
While Veres never made the complete comeback, his determination and grit will always define what kind of player he was in the majors. It didn’t hurt that he was one of the best relievers in Rockies history.