This month is now known as Rocktober. – Sign held by fan at Coors Field in 2007.
When I wrote the first draft of this column I was still tired from staying up late watching the 2-1 Rockies nail-biter win over the Chicago Cubs, Oct. 2. The Rockies qualified for the National League playoffs with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Alas, that series was a disaster as they scored just two runs in three games. Was it pathetic? Yes, even for a die-heard Rockies fan such as myself, it was a crushing disappointment.
Now it is back to the old refrain: “Wait until next year.”
One of my all-time favorite Rockies stories is about another dedicated fan, 95-year old Art Schutte of Greybull. His son Mike tells the following about his old man:
“So, my father loved sports. Because of his situation raising nine children, he never played but became a great sports fan when we kids started playing. My first baseball coach was the great John Kosich, who played both football and baseball for the University of Wyoming.
“Dad probably attended 4,000 ballgames over the next 50 years. He umpired baseball for years, helped with concessions and worked the fields that were located right across the alley from our home in south Greybull. Because of his contributions to Greybull sports, the town council named the sports fields, the Art Schutte Sports Complex.
“Dad and I went to Denver several times to watch the Denver Bears, at one time a Yankee farm team and went to Billings to watch the minor-league Mustangs.
“At some point, I told dad that if the Rockies ever got to the World Series, I would take him to a game in Denver.
“In 2007 the Rockies basically played 50:50 ball for most of the season so no one was thinking about the World Series. In August of 2007, dad was in a bad car accident and his injuries were such that we thought he probably wouldn’t survive much longer. He did survive his hospital stay but came out in a wheel chair. He was hanging on.
“Then an amazing thing started to happen. On Sept. 16 the Rockies were 76-72 and started one of the greatest stretch runs ever. The Rockies won 14 of their final 15 regular season games. The stretch culminated with a 9-8, 13-inning victory over the San Diego Padres in a one-game playoff for the wild card berth. The Rockies then swept their first seven playoff games to win the 2007 National League Pennant — the franchise’s first-ever pennant. At the start of the World Series, the Rockies had won a total of 21 out of 22 games.
“During this amazing run, my dad seemed to be getting a little better and more excited after each win. When they won the pennant I knew I had to fulfill a promise that I had made years ago.
“God had come through for me many times and came through again! I knew Mike McGraw because we both played for the Wyoming Cowboys and had become close friends. Mike was running a ranch for Jerry McMorris, one of the Rockies’ owners. Mike didn’t let me down. McMorris, at Mike’s request got me two seats in the wheelchair area about 13 rows up from the dugout for the fourth game. A wheelchair space for dad and a chair for me right beside him.
“I will never forget how excited he was to be going to a World Series game. I drove up to Greybull and picked him up for the ride back to Colorado on the day before the game. We talked baseball and other sports for 400 miles. He never even took a nap. By game time the next day, the Rockies had lost the first three games of the series but that didn’t hinder his great excitement of finally being at a World Series game, my first also.
“I watched the game for a while and then I would watch my father as he was in his favorite element of being at a ball game, but this time in a Major League ballpark at the World Series. He never quit smiling the whole game, even as the Rockies were losing.
“And about every three innings he would say quietly, ‘I can’t believe I’m at the World Series!’ Dad passed away in 2009 but not before he told everyone in Greybull and anywhere else he went about going to the World Series. I miss that great sports fan!”
Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books. His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find them at www.wyomingwonders.com.