Rookie Troy Tulowitzki first tasted success back when celebrating meant an ice cream sundae, and though his winning ways came of age in a champagne shower when the Rockies clinched a playoff spot, he has no trouble keeping connected to his past.
Tulo was a game away from the Little League World Series as a 12-year-old, and he went on to win everything from a gold medal for Team USA in the '04 world championship to a Double-A title with the Tulsa Drillers in '06.
His passion to play began in the neighborhood days, improvising games with broomstick bats, tape balls and a strike zone drawn on the garage door. Ken Tulowitzki started coaching his son as soon as Tulo could toddle, sticking a glove on his hand and ensuring the shortstop's head was on straight.
"My dad was hard on me, and I was an aggressive kid that didn't want to fail," Tulo said of the yearning for success passed down from father to son. "I don't know if I've ever been on a losing team. All my teams won. When you win all those years, winning kind of comes easy, but it's not that easy."
Tulo fantasized about a career in law enforcement, noting, "It would be cool keeping the bad people off the streets and helping people at the same time." Nevertheless, at Long Beach State University he majored in kinesiology, hoping to learn more about his body and find another edge as an athlete. Perhaps it's that extra level of understanding that gives him the ability to make such acrobatic plays from deep in the hole at short.
He still hopes to complete his final year and earn his degree, but the quickly maturing middle infielder who turned 23 on the eve of the NLCS opener is in no hurry to lose his zest for new challenges. His brother, Tyler, and sister, Tiffany, 11th and 7th graders at home in Santa Clara, Calif., help keep him "young," and Tulo is even learning to play the guitar from Tyler. Rock on, Tulo!
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.