The 2009 World Baseball Classic has been a joy to watch so far and it has been great to see some familiar faces in different places.
During the game on Sunday night between the United States and
Venezuela, the camera took a shot of the Venezuelan dugout. There was a familiar face staring right back at me and it was of a beloved and original Rockie. One Mr. Andres Galarraga “the big cat” himself was back in baseball and it was good to see. He had battled cancer twice and it was good to see not only was he looking healthy but putting some of that experience of his to good use for his home country.
The Rockies have had a number of players come and go in their short history but first base has been a mainstay having two players holding down the position. Others have had short stints at first, but Galarraga and Todd Helton have been the two players to log the most time keeping the defense tight and right.
In their inaugural year 1993, the Rockies fielded players from all over the league including Andres. Up until ’93 Galarraga had played for the now
defunct Montreal Expos from 1985 to 1991 when he was traded to the Cardinals. While playing for the Cardinals he caught the eye of batting coach Don Baylor who would become the Rockies first skipper a year later. The Rockies would pick him up as a free agent and so would begin the career as one of the Rockies greatest players.
Rockies faithful would remember the incredible year he would have in 1993 hitting .370 and becoming the first Venezuelan to win a batting title. The 22HRs and 98 RBIs would give the fans in Colorado a glimpse at one of the offensive mainstays during his short but very productive five seasons with the Rockies.
He was the first Rockies player ever sent to an All-Star game and part of the offensive juggernaut known as the “Blake Street Bombers.” But like all good things it had to come to an end. A young and impressive first baseman by the name of Todd Helton was waiting in the wings and the Rockies decided to go with youth. Galarraga would bounce around until 2005 when he retired after trying out with the Mets.
What’s more impressive than his career was overcoming cancer twice and having as much of a love for the game to still be coaching.
Glad to see you back big cat. Stay healthy and hoping you pop up as a coach somewhere in the United States.
Photo credit- big cat http://3.bp.blogspot.com