Colorado Rockies 20 Years Later- Five Original Players & Where Are They Now?
The Colorado Rockies with a record of 10-4 have matched their second best start in their history. Their best 14-game start was 11-3 in 2011. It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 20 years since the Colorado Rockies inaugural season at Mile High Stadium in Denver. Never mind that the Rockies went 67-95 as an expansion franchise. It was all about Major League Baseball finally coming to the Mile High City. The Rockies built that first roster through the MLB expansion draft. Each team could protect 15 players – everyone else was fair game. How many players can you name that were on the Rockies’ inaugural roster? Here’s a look at five memorable Rockies players – and where they are now.
DALE MURPHY:Not many people will remember that outfielder Dale Murphy played on that Rockies team in 1993. Murphy is a two-time National League Most Valuable player, who spent 15 memorable seasons with the Atlanta Braves, and three more with the Philadelphia Phillies before coming to Colorado for the final season of his career. At age 37 he played in just 26 games for the Rockies. In 2012, Murphy was part of the Braves broadcast team, and this year he served as first base coach for the USA Team in the World Baseball Classic.
JOE GIRARDI : Catcher Joe Girardi was just coming into his own when he joined the Rockies in 1993 after 3 seasons with the Chicago Cubs. The move more than doubled his salary to $670,000. Girardi spent three seasons in Colorado and then spent four seasons with the Yankees, three with the Cubs, and finished his playing career with one season in St. Louis. Girardi is currently managing the New York Yankees, taking over in 2008 and leading the Yanks to a World Series title in 2009.
ANDRES GALLARAGA: First basemen Andres Gallaraga enjoyed a successful 19-year career in Major League baseball, including five in Colorado. The “Big Cat”, as he was known, established himself as a legitimate major league hitter in 7 seasons with Montreal and one in St. Louis before coming to the Rockies. In five seasons with the Rockies, Gallaraga hit 172 home runs, and hit below .300 in only one of those seasons. He would go on to play for the Braves, Rangers, Giants, Expos, and Angels. He was named the MLB Comeback Player of the Year after a successful return to baseball following cancer treatment. Gallaraga was on the coaching staff this year for the Venezuela team in the World Baseball Classic.
DANTE BICHETTE: He may not have received a lot of awards and recognition, but Dante Bichette was a fan favorite during his time in Colorado. Bichette was a baseball hitting machine. A four-time all-star with the Rockies after coming over from the Milwaukee Brewers, Bichette had an incredible 1995 season batting .340 with 40 home runs. After leaving Colorado, Bichette went on to play for the Reds, and the Red Sox before ending a 15 year playing career. He ended up with the Dodgers but retired before playing a single game. In 2004, BIchette played pitcher and first base for the Nashua Pride of the Atlanta League, a professional, independent baseball organization. In the fall of 2012, Bichette was hired as the Rockies hitting coach.
Vinny Castilla: Another fan favorite, Vinny Castilla came to the Rockies after having just 21 at-bats in two seasons with Atlanta. Castilla hit just 12 home runs during his first two years with Colorado, but then had five consecutive years of hitting 32 or more homers. After leaving Colorado, and Rockies fans are still wondering why it happened, Castilla floated around the league with stops in Tampa Bay, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, San Diego, and two more different stints with Colorado. After managing the Mexican team for the Pan American Games in 2007, Castilla was back with Colorado as a special assistant to General Manager Dan O’Dowd, a position he still holds today.