Sometimes funny things happen in sports, things that you never expect. It happened in Toronto over the summer when Cito Gaston returned as the manager of the Blue Jays. That is a wonderful feel-good story, and it's exciting to see where he can lead the Jays in the coming years. The story that I am talking about is a little different, though.
On Monday, the Colorado Rockies hired Don Baylor to be the club's new hitting coach, ten years after he was let go as manager of the Rockies. Baylor was the team's first manager, running the show in Denver from 1993-1998. He oversaw virtually every first that has happened for the Rockies, with the exception of the team's first World Series appearance, which came in 2007. He was there for the first home run, the first win, the first game, the first playoff appearance, the first All-Star Game in Denver, the opening of Coors Field, and Todd Helton's first Major League game. It's interesting the way that it has come full-circle for Baylor. In 1997, he hired young Clint Hurdle to be his hitting coach. He was instrumental in Hurdle's career, with Hurdle now looking toward his seventh season as manager of the Rockies. Now, the man that Baylor helped get started in coaching in the Big Leagues has returned the favor by hiring his former boss to be his hitting coach 11 years later.
Don Baylor has always been one of my favorite guys. No matter where he has gone in his coaching career since leaving the Rockies in 1998, he is one that will forever be remembered as a Colorado Rockie. When the Rockies made their magical run to the National League pennant in 2007, most of us around here couldn't help but think about Don Baylor and how instrumental he was in making sure that baseball was a success in Denver. We all knew that he was smiling watching the team finally achieve that level of success. This is one of those things that makes me incredibly proud to be a Rockies fan. Welcome home, Don!