The Colorado Rockies’ First Game

It was on Monday, April 5, 1993. The game story by Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News said:

For three decades Rocky Mountain baseball fans had waited for a big-league team to call their own. Finally, the anticipation gave way to reality Monday. The Colorado Rockies made their official National League debut.

A moment to cherish, however, turned from pregame celebration to postgame consternation.

The Rockies were visitors at their own coming-out party, and the hosts, the New York Mets, were anything but gracious. Before the sun set on Shea Stadium, the Rockies’ hopes faded in the shadow of Dwight “Doc” Gooden’s rejuvenated arm.

The Doc operated with the precision of his glory days, and the Rockies were left with a 3-0 loss to enter in their archives as a reminder of their beginning on a brisk April afternoon.

But the season has only just begun for the Rockies.

“There’s more pressure now than before,” manager Don Baylor said. “We’ve played our first game, but we still have to win our first game . . . I never like losing, but the way we lost today, this club has nothing to be ashamed of. We got beat by one of the best pitchers around.”

“You’re aware of what’s going on,” Gooden said. “You’re aware of all the firsts they are going to be recording. We were joking about what could happen a little before the game. But once the first pitch is thrown, you get serious. You want to be the pitcher that gave them their first loss, not the pitcher that suffered the first loss against them.”

Gooden got his wish at the expense of the Rockies’ first hopes. He allowed them only four hits, all singles. The first was a solid shot up the middle by Andres Galarraga, who led off the second inning.

Only twice did the Rockies mount anything close to a rally. Both times Gooden escaped at the expense of Galarraga, the veteran of the Rockies’ lineup.

With two outs in the third, Gooden found himself suddenly having to squirm. But he struck out Galarraga to end the inning with the bases loaded. In the ninth, an overanxious Galarraga tried to stretch a single into a double and was thrown out. Had he been satisfied with a single, the Rockies would have had runners on first and third with one out. Instead, there were two down, and Jerald Clark popped up to right field for the final out of the Rockies’ first game.

Ringolsby said of David Nied:

Dazzling, he wasn’t. Five innings of work. Six hits. Six walks. But only two runs. He escaped with two men on and one out in the first inning, getting Bobby Bonilla to pop up and striking out Howard Johnson after falling behind 3-1 in the count. Back-to-back singles from Joe Orsulak and Jeff Kent opened the second, but Nied escaped. Todd Hundley popped to shallow right field. Gooden bounced to third base, and Orsulak was thrown out at the plate. Vince Coleman popped up. Even a bases-loaded jam in the third – when Nied issued three of his walks – proved uneventful: Nied got Kent to ground into a fielder’s choice.

Here’s a quote from third baseman Charlie Hayes: “It’s good to get all this out of the way, but a loss is a loss. If we’d lost 10-9 or 10-0, we would have lost and that’s what you remember. We gave a professional effort, but we didn’t win. What we’ve got to remember is this may have been the first game, but it’s only one game and we’ve got 161 more to play. The idea is to win more than you lose, and we’ve got 161 more chances to do that.”

From Alex Cole: “This was like a playoff game. I’ve been through this, and I know my stomach was churning. I didn’t settle down until after the first pitch. I know it was worse for some of the younger guys. You could look around the clubhouse and see guys were nervous.”

And from Dante Bichette: “Well, this will prepare us for the World Series.”

Here’s a few Rockies’ firsts, courtesy of the Rocky Mountain News:

Pitch – At 12:18 p.m. MDT, second baseman Eric Young takes a fastball from the New York Mets’ Dwight Gooden for a called strike.

Out – Young bunts and is thrown out by Mets catcher Todd Hundley.

Foul ball – With two balls, two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the first inning, right fielder Dante Bichette fouls a Gooden pitch into the backstop.

Single – First baseman Andres Galarraga leads off the second inning with a line drive to center field.

Base on balls – With two outs in the third inning and Young on second, center fielder Alex Cole takes four straight balls.

Hit by pitch – Bichette is hit in the left hand by Gooden in the top of the third. The count was no balls and two strikes.

Groundout – Shortstop Freddie Benavides grounds to Mets third baseman Howard Johnson to start the third inning.

Flyout – Cole flies to Mets right Bobby Bonilla with one out in the the first inning.

Strikeout – Galarraga strikes out swinging against Gooden to end the third inning. The count was three balls and two strikes, and the bases were loaded, also making it the first strikeout with the bases full.

1-2-3 inning – In the first inning, Young is thrown out on a bunt attempt, and Cole and Bichette fly out to right.

Man left on base – Galarraga singles and advances to third on a groundout by Charlie Hayes, but he is stranded at third when catcher Joe Girardi pops out to first to end the second inning.

Bases loaded – Young leads off the third inning with a single to center, then steals second. Cole walks and Bichette gets hit by a pitch with two out, but Galarraga fans.

Pinch hitter – Daryl Boston hits for relief pitcher Butch Henry in the top of the eighth inning. Boston strikes out swinging.

Stolen base – With two outs in the top of the third, Young, who had singled, steals second and is safe when the throw is high and wide.

PITCHING
Pitch – David Nied’s first pitch to Mets left fielder Vince Coleman was a high fastball for a ball.

Base on balls – Mets shortstop Tony Fernandez walks on a 3-2 count with one out in the top of the first inning.

Run allowed – Gooden singles to right on a no-ball, two-strike count in the fourth inning, and advances to third on Coleman’s single to center two pitches later. The next batter, Fernandez, grounds out to deep second, scoring Gooden, who had a good jump from third.

Hit allowed – Mets first baseman Eddie Murray singles with one out in the first inning with a line drive to right field, sending Fernandez, who had walked, to third.

Home run allowed – Nied gives up a home run to Bonilla to open the fifth inning. Bonilla hits the first pitch just inside the right-field foul pole.

Relief pitcher – Butch Henry replaces Nied at the start of the sixth inning. In five innings, Nied allowed two runs and six hits, struck out three and walked six.

Strikeout – Nied strikes out Coleman, the first batter he faces.

Foulout – Bonilla fouls out to Girardi with two outs in the first inning.

Stolen base – Murray takes second with two outs and Fernandez on third.

Pitchout – With the count at one ball and one strike and no outs, Nied throws a pitchout to Mets second baseman Jeff Kent.

Full count – Nied, facing his fifth batter of the season, goes to a 3-2 count on Johnson in the first inning before striking him out.

Intentional walk – Nied intentionally walks Hundley with two out and Johnson on second base in the fifth inning.

1-2-3 inning – Henry retires the side in the seventh. Center fielder Joe Orsulak flies out to left, Kent flies out to right, and Hundley is called out on strikes.

FIELDING
Putout – Girardi records the first putout when Nied strikes out Coleman to lead off the Mets’ first inning.

Assist – Third baseman Charlie Hayes records the first assist, throwing out Orsulak on a play at the plate for the second out in the second inning.

Play at the plate – With Orsulak on third base, Gooden hits a chopper toward third. Hayes throws out Orsulak by a wide margin at the plate.

OTHER
Trip to the mound – Rockies manager Don Baylor meets with Nied after Nied had walked Murray, Johnson and Orsulak to load the bases in the third inning with two outs. Two pitches later, Kent hits into a force play to end the inning.

Ceremonial pitch – Former baseball comissioner Fay Vincent throws out the first pitch at 12:12 p.m. MDT.

Boo – For New York Mayor David Dinkins, during pregame ceremonies.

Attendance – 53,127. That was an Opening Day attendance record for Shea Stadium.

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