Colorado Rockies: Larry Walker, Jorge Brito, and a play at the plate
By Aaron Hurt
A season before Larry Walker of the Colorado Rockies bashed his way to the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1997, he found himself down in Triple-A Colorado Springs. The newly elected member of the Baseball Hall of Fame was rehabbing an injured right elbow that would later plague him throughout his later years in Denver.
While Colorado Springs Sky Sox fans were mesmerized by just the sight of the future Hall of Famer, it was a play at the plate that started with Walker’s arm that ruined the career of a minor leaguer.
In early August of 1996, Larry Walker made a surprise appearance with the Sky Sox in a three-game series against the Salt Lake Buzz. Walker did not disappoint as he batted .364 (4-for-11), with a pair of homers and eight RBI in his three games down on the farm.
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In the first game of the series, on August 10, Walker went 2-for-4 with two RBI. However, it was his play in the outfield that proved costly for one of his temporary teammates.
On a late-inning base hit to right field, Walker showed off his infamous cannon of a right arm and gunned down a runner at the plate by at least 10 feet. Instead of sliding or even accepting defeat, the Salt Lake runner plowed into the catcher, severely injuring him. That catcher was a player by the name of Jorge Brito.
Brito, a catcher out of the Dominican Republic, had spent the majority of his career in the minors before making two brief appearances with the Rockies as a backup to Joe Girardi and Jeff Reed in 1995 and 1996.
Unfortunately for him, the collision at the plate ended his season and he only played in eight games the following season with Syracuse Skychiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. He would play two more lackluster seasons in the minors within Milwaukee’s organization before retiring in 1999 at the age of 33 after 13 seasons of professional baseball.
Brito’s career ended having appeared in only 26 major league games over two seasons (all with the Rockies), batting 12-for-65 (.185) with three doubles and seven RBI.
Disclaimer: I am being vague on the severity of Brito’s injury due to the fact that I was only 10 years old when I was in attendance to witness this game and my memory is a bit hazy. If anyone has more information on this or knows what Brito is doing now, I would love to hear it. You can reach me on Twitter @FlatlandRockies.