Rockies honor historic 2007 squad

Rockies honor historic 2007 squad

DENVER -- Todd Helton was shocked a decade had passed since the Rockies' miracle march to the World Series. But when he saw his old teammates during Friday's 10-year reunion at Coors Field, the years melted away.

Before the game against the Padres, the Rockies honored the club that won 21 of 22 before being swept by the Red Sox in the 2007 World Series. Seventeen players, plus three members of the coaching staff, were on hand for the celebration.

"Time flies … looking back, it was a great time in all our lives," said Helton, now player development director for the University of Tennessee's baseball program. "It's always good to see the guys. It's such a tight-knit group. We see them and don't skip a beat."

Helton on the 2007 Rockies

Jeff Francis, a left-handed pitcher who earned 17 regular-season wins and two in the postseason, summed it up in one word.

"I think of the word 'Rocktober,' how much fun we had here doing it, and how much fun the people in this city would have doing it again," Francis said.

The 2007 Rockies handed out rally towels at the entry gates and participated in an on-field ceremony before the game and took part in between-innings promotions throughout the contest. Players dressed in replicas of 2007 white home pinstripes (actually, they wore black sleeveless jerseys for most of the run and went to the whites only for Game 4 of the World Series), and all the classic moments came back.

Herges talks about 2007 Rockies

There was Helton's home run on Sept. 17, 2007, against Dodgers reliever Takashi Saito -- previously unhittable for the Rockies -- ending a doubleheader sweep. The usually reserved Helton tossed his helmet, and the celebration seemed to jolt the Rockies into believing.

"I never knew that showing emotion was such a big deal," Helton said. "I would have done it before."

Black has special perspective on '07 tiebreaker

Black on the 2007 Rockies

Golden moments were aplenty that year.

• Brad Hawpe delivered a 14th-inning, two-run homer for a 2-1 victory over the Padres on Sept. 21.

• Garrett Atkins, generously described as a plodding runner, had a Sept. 23 inside-the-park homer when Padres outfielders Milton Bradley and Mike Cameron collided.

Matt Holliday had the mad dash to the plate on Jamey Carroll's sac fly for the winning run in the Oct. 1 Game 163 tiebreaker against the Padres.

Yorvit Torrealba, whose contributions led to postseason appearances in '07 and '09, knocked a three-run homer off the D-backs' Livan Hernandez in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.

"It was a special year in '07, with a great group of guys," said righty reliever LaTroy Hawkins, now a special assistant with the Twins' front office and a broadcaster of the team's games on FOX Sports North. "We didn't start off the season that well, but we came together midway through that season and went on a pretty impressive run."

Carroll on memorable 2007

Of course, moments are too numerous to list. Many were pulled off by players who are still active. The Yankees' Holliday, the Orioles' Ubaldo Jimenez and Seth Smith and the D-backs' Chris Iannetta were among those who delivered well-wishes during a video played on the Rockies' scoreboard. So did Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who led the Rockies on the fateful run.

Part of the reason the run was unexpected was injuries to Aaron Cook, Rodrigo Lopez and Jason Hirsh (all of whom were at the reunion) before the end of August. Yet callups such as Jimenez and left-hander Franklin Morales (a free agent who pitched for the Blue Jays last year and was sporting a brace Friday after rotator cuff surgery) pitched in.

"We were guys that understood what we had to do to contribute to that ballclub -- even me, a guy on the disabled list, I was doing things like shagging out in the outfield, doing the bucket [for the baseballs during batting practice] or doing things around the clubhouse and on the field or off the field," said Hirsh, now involved in arm care for young athletes.

Atkins on '07 tiebreaker

Even those who played small parts walk forever with the '07 Rockies club. For example, they invited Zach McClellan, a right-handed pitcher who appeared in the only 12 games of his Major League career -- none after May 13. He would co-star in one of 15 unassisted triple plays in baseball history on April 29. He threw the pitch that the Braves' Chipper Jones lined to then-rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who completed the triple play.

"Even today, Todd Helton walks in," said McClellan, whose career was shortened by injury before he became a leader of an engineering company. "I re-introduce myself thinking I needed to. He said, 'I know who you are, Zach.' The thing about this group is we take care of each other and remember each other."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.