Forgotten members of the Colorado Rockies: Steve Finley

The Colorado Rockies have been an MLB team for nearly 30 years now. Throughout that span, there have been some players that were franchise players for the team and there were some that not known for their time with the Rockies. Those people are the ones that we have been looking at recently.

The Colorado Rockies entered the 2007 season as a team that was hoping that they’d be able to improve on their 2006 season, in which they went 76-86, which was a nine-game improvement on their 2005 campaign.

Through the first two months of the season, they had improved but still not to a playoff level as they entered the month of June with a record of 25-29.

One of the players that played for the Rockies during those two months was outfielder Steve Finley. Finley was obviously at the twilight of his career because he turned 42 years old during spring training.

He was entering his 19th season as a major leaguer. He played for several MLB teams, including every team in the National League West, but he is best known for playing with the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres. However, the single most famous moment in his career came in 2004 after the D’Backs traded him to the Dodgers.

He hit a walk-off grand slam to clinch the NL West title for the Dodgers on the season’s penultimate day. The Dodgers were down 3-0 entering the 9th inning but with Finley’s grand slam, they won (in regulation) 7-3. You can watch the video (and broadcast call from Vin Scully) of it here.

He started his MLB career in 1989 but his prime years were between 1995 and 2004. In that span, he averaged 151 games a season with 25 home runs, 82 RBI, a .282/.343/.482 slash line, and a 111 OPS+. In that span, he won five Gold Glove Awards, a two-time All-Star, and he got MVP votes in two seasons. He also won the World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.

He won a job in spring training with the Rockies in 2007, though, as he became a backup outfielder for the Rockies after he signed on a minor league deal with a spring training invite.

He struggled mightily once the regular season came, though, as, in 43 games (102 plate appearances), he only had a single home run, two RBI, a .181/.245/.245 slash line, and an OPS+ of 24.

At the beginning of June, Finley played his last game and the Rockies designated him for assignment. He was later given his release. He never signed with or played for another MLB team again.

At the time of his release, according to the Missouri Valley Conference (of which Finley was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2014), he was first in triples (124), third in games (2,583) and at-bats (9,397), fourth in hits (2,548), seventh in runs (1,443), eighth in total bases (4,157), and ninth in doubles (449) and stolen bases (320) among active players at the time.

He also had the fourth-most center field appearances in Major League history and was the 6th-oldest player in the National League.

Next: A key stretch of Larry Walker’s 1997 MVP season

The Rockies, of course, after Finley’s release, played much better and they made it all the way to the World Series for the first (and thus far, only) World Series appearance.

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