On Saturday, the Colorado Rockies will hold a moment of silence at Coors Field in honor of those who were lost and those whose lives were changed forever 20 years ago on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.
On that day, two Columbine seniors shot and killed 13 people (12 students and one teacher) before killing themselves. The deadliest school shooting in our nation’s history unfolded just 15 miles from Coors Field and impacted everyone in Colorado, including members of the Colorado Rockies.
Vinny Castilla was a member of the 1999 Rockies team that was preparing to play the Montreal Expos at home on that fateful spring day. On Saturday, Castilla told me in an exclusive interview what he remembered about that day.
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“They told me what was going on. We were ready to play and we couldn’t believe what was going on,” Castilla remembered about the moments after the rampage became public. “That was a very sad moment for us and for anyone in Colorado. You couldn’t believe what you were hearing. I just felt so bad for the kids and the families. It was a horrible situation for the whole state.”
The Rockies cancelled their game that day out of respect for the victims and survivors. They would not play again until two days later, on the road against the San Francisco Giants.
In 1999, his seventh season in Colorado, Castilla would start 155 of the 158 games in which he saw action for the Rockies, with 157 games that season seeing Castilla at some point manning third base. One year after winning his Silver Slugger and earning his second All-Star Game nomination, Castilla would finish 1999 with a .275/.331/.478 slash line. The next season, he would play in 85 games for Tampa Bay before eventually returning to Colorado for the 2004 season and a brief appearance in 2006.
There is no question that the events at Columbine rippled through Denver and the sporting community that day and still draw strong reactions today. Here are some of the comments from the Rockies and Expos from that day, as well as thoughts from the Denver Nuggets, who also canceled their game that evening out of respect.
As Coloradans, we will never forget those lost that day at Columbine.