John F. Russell: Kicking off summer at Coors Field

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John Russell

John Russell's sports column appears Sundays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by John here.

— This is the best way to kick off summer in Colorado.

I was seated in the first row of the third deck at Coors Field last Saturday watching as the Colorado Rockies held on to a two-run lead against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Sure, I know the kids are still in school. Sure, I realize that Steamboat is expected to get some snow this weekend. And yes, I know that we are still several weeks away from the official start of summer here in the 'Boat. But when you’re seated in the middle of thousands of screaming fans at a Colorado Rockies game, summer fills every breath you inhale.

Nothing sounds more like summer than the crack of a bat or a ball smacking against the the leather of a first baseman’s glove as he makes the out. Nothing smells more like summer than the hot dogs as you wait in line at the concession stand, or the nachos you hold in your hands as you watch the action on the field. Even the smell of spilled beer a row in front of you reeks of summer.

Nothing feels more like summer than the crunch of that peanut shell in your fingers, or the excitement that fills your heart as the Rockies take the field for the first inning or the vacuum that seems to suck the air out of the stadium as a long fly ball heads toward the left field bleachers.

It’s only April, but I can’t think of a better way to kick off summer in Colorado.

I know this because last summer, the one thing I failed to do was make the drive to Denver to watch the Colorado Rockies play at home. I’m not sure why we didn’t make the trip — not enough time, too many obligations or maybe the fact the Rockies have lost the past four games I’ve gone to. But I missed the sounds, the smells and the excitement of watching the game live.

When someone suggested going to a game in April, lots of thoughts went through my mind. It’s too early, it’s too cold and it’s too risky to think that the Rockies might be good this season. I had enough excuses to fill up the back of my Subaru Outback.

But in the end, I realized that I had too many excuses not to make the trip, too many reasons not to enjoy the game and too many reasons to wait until summer had passed me by without passing through the turnstile at 20th and Blake streets.

I’m glad I took the chance on the April game because it turned out to be a great way to kick off the summer.

Jordan Lyles turned in a terrific performance on the mound, Walt Weiss challenged a play at home and won, and Justin Morneau provided a two-run homer in the fourth to get my heart pumping.

As I left the ballpark, a cold wind hit me in the face reminding me that summer still is a few weeks away. But there is no question that this is the best way to kick off summer in Colorado.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

Comments

rhys jones 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Yeah, maybe this will be the year. When I graduated high school and went off to the Marines, that neighborhood was still the industrial/warehouse district -- I worked at one of them -- years before the lower downtown makeover, and subsequent Rockies.

Since family has departed the region, I have had little reason to return to Denver, save the occasional (VERY occasional -- every ten years or so) trip through on Greyhound. The bus depot is blocks away from Coors Field, yet worlds away. They represent opposite ends of a spectrum. I've walked around the outside of that park, dreaming of the joys to be had within; no game was ever going on when I was there, not that I could have attended anyway. So I have yet to see the interior of that structure in person, but the outside is BEAUTIFUL.

I've only been to two professional baseball games in my life, one in Anaheim, the other Kansas City, to watch our beloved A's at home. (You read that correctly) At this game I witnessed a touching event, quite unrelated to baseball...

These were race-riot days, late '60's, tensions were high... we had good seats, nothing but pasty white faces surrounding us. Up the steps came a little black kid, maybe 10, with a tray of Cokes... he stumbled on a step, falling forward and dumping that whole tray, saving but a couple, and not all of those.

There was an immediate round of laughter at the guffaw, and when this kid stood back up, tears at the corners of his eyes -- everybody there knew he was responsible for that tray -- these people snapped around, and bought EVERY DAMN ONE of those Cokes. They were paying for empty cups. The kid went away smiling.

That gave me hope; maybe there is hope for Man.

Yeah, maybe this will be the year.

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