Every Major League player has a story about the first time he was called up to play in The Show. Sam Hilliard is no exception, and his tale about how he first learned he would be playing for the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night is a good one to hear.
Sam Hilliard, named on Monday to the All-Pacific Coast League team after crushing 35 home runs and driving in 101 runs, will make his Major League debut in center field for the Colorado Rockies against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night at Coors Field.
The 25-year-old Hilliard was playing for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes at home in Las Vegas when he popped out to left as part of an 0-for-3 day. The at-bat may have seemed meaningless, but Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill was scheming a plan to break some big news to him.
"“I was playing yesterday and I came out of the game in the fifth,” Hilliard recalled to Rox Pile and other reporters on Tuesday afternoon. “He (Hill) pulled me over and said, ‘Hey, what did you think about your effort level on that pop out to left field?’ I said, ‘It was good. I ran hard.” He said, ‘Well, I have to take you out.’ I got really upset. I thought I was getting pulled because of a lack of effort and I was running hard. I was like, ‘What the heck, G?’ And he said, ‘It’s not because of your effort level.’"
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The Isotopes manager wouldn’t tell Hilliard, which only built up the suspense … until after the game.
"“He called me into his office and he was telling me lessons about baseball and playing hard, this and that,” Hilliard said. “He said I’m going to want to remember that tomorrow when I’m in the box at Coors. That’s how he dropped it on me.“I don’t really remember what happened after that. I was overwhelmed and super excited.”"
Hilliard admits that his mind was starting to wander towards a potential call-up when Hill pulled him and the fifth inning and wouldn’t tell him why.
"“It was kind of a hint,” Hilliard smiled. “My teammates were coming up to me and telling me they thought that’s what it was. I just tried to watch the game and that was the longest four innings of my life.”"