Game 163: The greatest game in Colorado Rockies history
By Ben Macaluso
Josh Fogg, a.k.a. Dragon Slayer, earned his nickname in this one but almost by default. The game started with a 3-0 lead going into the third inning. I didn’t think they’d score that many runs the whole game. Then the Padres scored five in the top half of that inning and I felt all my realities coming back to me. Fogg was yanked the next inning. I thought about school the next day and how I was totally unprepared a month into for my freshman year of college. That’s how bad those five runs hurt. That’s all I thought Peavy needed to win.
Then the magic of the season came back as the Rockies just kept chipping away at the brilliant right-hander. When Peavy was pulled in the 6th, he was on the hook with the loss as the Rockies led 6-5. I ate so many nachos and drank so many Cokes, I was so nervous. The dragon was slayed thanks to the Rockies offense.
Then came the Padres bullpen. Trevor Hoffman‘s protege, Heath Bell entered the game and absolutely dominated not giving up a hit in almost three innings of relief. The Padres would need that extended relief as this game went into extras after the Padres tied it up in the eighth inning. The Padres had every advantage going into those extras. The Pads shut out the Rockies for three consecutive innings in extras and when Scott Hairston hit a two-run homer in the top of the 13th, it felt like all of the oxygen was sucked out of the stadium. We were silent. With Trevor Hoffman warming in the bullpen, that seemed to be the end to this fairy tale.
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I wasn’t mad. I was okay with them losing. They had fought so hard and improved so much that I felt hope. Even if that wouldn’t culminate into a win in this game. But the Rockies weren’t done telling their story.
Every player who had been such a great addition to the team or who had a stand out year would come up huge in the bottom of the 13th. Kaz Matsui, who arguably had his best major league years in Colorado, hit a lead-off double. Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday and Todd Helton were all up next with no outs. “Why couldn’t we do this?!”I yelled at my dad. I had to give my Pops the play-by-play. He simply couldn’t watch.
Then Tulo hit another double to get the Rockies within one run. The tying run was at second! But no one was thinking of more extras. If the Rockies were going to win, this felt like their only shot. When Holliday hit that triple deep to right, I lost control of my body. Maybe it was a mixture of caffeine and jalapeños, but I was delirious. My voice was shot from cheering. My 7:30 a.m. class the next morning was the last thing on my mind. I couldn’t feel my body any more. This game was all tied at eight a piece.
When Hoffman walked Helton, you have never heard such loud boos. But when Jamey Carroll stepped up to the plate, I felt the momentum rush through my body. I felt invincible. We could not lose. That’s probably why I felt Holliday should tag from third immediately when I realized Carroll hit a fly ball. But when my dad finally got the courage to watch, he yelled, “He’s not tagging, is he?!”
To be honest, I never could tell if Holliday was safe or not. I was 20 rows up the third base line. I could tell if he was safe. But I didn’t have the courage to look. I fixated all of my 18 years of life in my gaze towards that umpire. Almost before the umpire signaled safe, my dad picked me up off the ground. We both were crying in hysteria. It is the best moment I have shared with my dad.
I hugged the guy sitting next to me. I’ll never know his name but I’ll never forget his face. We all came together during that rollercoaster of a game. That 163rd game felt like a microcosm of what the fanbase of Denver went through with their Rockies. This team would reward you as long as you stuck around for the tough times.
Seeing the replay, yeah Holliday probably wasn’t safe. But it didn’t matter. If you walk into Coors Field today and stare down at the bricks in front of the home plate entrance, my dad’s phrase is inscribed on one of the bricks. It’s a moment that will last a lifetime for me.
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It was all part of a night that was meant to be. It was a game that brought us together and gave us hope. This game put the Rockies on the map. It got me through 2012 and I could see some of the magic in that 2007 team 10 years later in the 2017 team when they wouldn’t give up in their playoff game. It’s one of the reasons I’m excited for the future. Game 163 was a reminder of how beautiful this game can be and the true meaning of requited love.