If Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe ever pops a copy of "The Natural," starring Robert Redford, into his DVD player, he can smile at the dramatic home run scene at the end and say, "Been there. Done that."
In the spring of 1996, Hawpe was an outstanding hitter and pitcher at Boswell High School in Fort Worth, Texas. He would be drafted out of high school as a pitcher by the Blue Jays. But in a game against Springtown High School, he showed that maybe his future was as a hitter.
Hawpe launched an impressive grand slam that went over the fence and just kept traveling. The ball crashed into one of the stadium lights, causing an explosion of glass that rained onto the outfield.
"That's pretty special, and I still have the ball," Hawpe said. "After the game, a bunch of my teammates went out there with me and picked up the glass and put it in a case with the ball."
During the winter, Hawpe is an outdoorsman. When there were rumors that he would be traded last winter -- the Rockies said that there were other teams interested but they would have had to have been blown away -- Hawpe was in no position to be distracted. He and several current and former teammates were on a deer hunting excursion in Iowa.
Hawpe's wife, Kim, is his high school sweetheart. The couple has one daughter, Avery, 3. Kim Hawpe is deeply involved in various charity and community projects conducted by the Colorado Rockies Wives.
When not competing with nature or pushing the swing and swimming with Avery, Hawpe is thoroughly dedicated to being a better athlete. A couple of years ago, for example, he took the unusual step of working out with the highly regarded Texas Christian University track and field team in his hometown of Fort Worth. He'll never be a speedster, but he has learned good running form and has avoided the leg muscle injuries that had been an issue.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.