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Top Nine Saluting the 1993 Colorado Rockies

April 5, 2013 marked the official 20th anniversary of the Colorado Rockies, who played their first-ever game on that date back in 1993. As synergy would have it, that game came at Shea Stadium against the New York Mets, who are the cross-town rivals of the Rockies' current scheduled opponent.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was in the Rockies' lineup at Shea that day, and while he has been back since as both a player and manager, his team's current trip to Denver marks Girardi's first return while skippering the Bombers. In honor of the "homecoming," we've decided to take a look back at those original Rockies in the latest edition of The Niner; listed below, in positional order, is that Opening Day nine, with some notes about others who filled out the roster during the team's first season.

  • DANTE BICHETTE (No. 3 hitter on Opening Day)
    Now the Rockies' hitting coach, Bichette came to Colorado from Milwaukee in a Nov. 1992 trade and posted a .319-21-89 line over 141 games in his first of seven seasons in Denver. Fun fact: Dale Murphy, in the final season of his career, played 11 games in right field as well.
  • ALEX COLE (No. 2 hitter)
    Cole came from Pittsburgh in the Expansion Draft and hit .256 with 30 steals over 126 games in his only season in Denver. He played 93 of those games in center field, and was most often spelled by future Yankee Daryl Boston or veteran journeyman Chris Jones.
  • JERALD CLARK (No. 5 hitter)
    Clark came from San Diego in the Expansion Draft, and posted a .282-13-67 line in 140 games in his lone Rockies campaign. He played 80 games in left field, 17 in right and 37 at first base, with either Boston or Opening Day second baseman Eric Young (39 games each) his chief replacement in left.
  • FREDDIE BENAVIDES (No. 7 hitter)
    Benavides, an Expansion Draft pick from the Reds, started at short on Opening Day, but played just 74 games total and eventually ceded the job to a young shortstop named Vinny Castilla. Benavides hit .286 in his lone year in Denver, and he finished his career with Montreal in 1994.
  • CHARLIE HAYES (No. 6 hitter)
    Hayes was a Yankee in 1992 before being the No. 3 pick in the Expansion Draft, and he hit .305-25-98 with 11 steals in his first of two years in Colorado. Hayes played 154 of his 157 games at the hot corner, also making a quick one-inning appearance at shortstop during an April game vs. Florida.
  • ERIC YOUNG (No. 1 hitter)
    Young, an expansion pick from the Dodgers who spent five seasons in Denver, played second base on Opening Day 1993 but split time between second (79 games there, ceding mostly to Roberto Mejia) and the outfield (52 games) that year and went on to hit .269 and steal 42 bases.
  • ANDRES GALARRAGA (No. 4 hitter)
    One of just two Opening Day first basemen in Rockies history, "The Big Cat" was Colorado's first big free agent and he paid off big time, hitting .370 to win the 1993 NL batting title while adding 22 homers and 98 RBIs. He stayed in Colorado through 1997, when he left for the Braves and Todd Helton took over.
  • JOE GIRARDI (No. 8 hitter)
    Girardi was an expansion pick from the Cubs, and was one of four catchers (including time-share partner Danny Sheaffer and current Mariners manager Eric Wedge) used that season. He hit .290 in 86 games in 1993, and spent two more years in Denver before being traded to the Yankees in Nov. 1995.
  • DAVID NIED (No. 9 hitter/Opening Day starter)
    Nied, the No. 1 pick in the Expansion Draft from Atlanta, went 5-9 with a 5.17 ERA in 16 starts in 1993. Others on the staff included fellow ex-Brave Armando Reynoso (12-11, 4.00 in 30 starts), closer Darren Holmes (25 saves) and 35-year-old Bruce Hurst, who made three starts after being acquired in July.
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