From “Ballparks of Baseball” website. Used by permission.
Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO
Number of minor league games: A dozen or so (no stats or results survive–just a few memories)
First minor league game: Probably late summer 1978 (Denver Bears 8, Wichita Aeroes 5)
Last minor league game: Probably August 1991 (Denver Zephyrs vs. Iowa Cubs)
Number of Major League Games: 4
First Major League Game: June 5, 1994 (Pirates 4, Rockies 3)
Last Major League Game: June 28, 1994 (Padres 11, Rockies 3, 11 innings, 2nd game of doubleheader)
Mile High Stadium was demolished in 1999.
It has been destroyed along with so many other multipurpose stadiums, but I’d have to say Mile High Stadium is probably the best multipurpose stadium I’ve ever seen. It’s because of those awesome movable East Stands, which actually glided on water to move from a cozy football position to a more distant baseball position. And for a time, after Coors Field opened, there were a few people bemoaning the loss of Mile High, which averaged more in attendance than Coors could seat. But those third-deck seats in Mile High were really, really up there–quite far away, especially if you were down the lines. And those seats in center field…my, but they were a million miles away (although I liked that they sold them for a buck). So Coors is a definite improvement, but I don’t think there was too much wrong with Mile High. It was wonderfully quirky, in fact…homers to left were insanely easy, but homers to right were very difficult (I think it was something like 370 feet down the right field line, and the wall quite high.)
My very first pro baseball experiences were here. The first pro game I ever attended would have been in the late summer of my 2nd or 3rd grade year…likely 1977 or 1978. My T-ball team headed there one night to see the Montreal-affiliated Denver Bears beat the Wichita Aeroes 8-5. I’m 99% sure that’s the score because I remember the linescore:
Wichita 050 000 000
Denver 111 111 02X
There was a bell to signify how many runs the Bears scored in each inning, so we kept hearing “The toll for the inning…[ding!]…one run.” All else I remember from that night was missing a home run while in the bathroom, being uncomfortably near a foul ball, and being amazed that I was out at the ungodly hour of 10PM.
I recall snippets from the next 16-17 years of American Association baseball, through Expos, White Sox, Reds, and Brewers affiliations: a ceremony to honor Tim Raines’ record 77 stolen bases in a year (1980), Lloyd McClendon hitting for the cycle, several “let’s impress the major league teams and show that we love baseball by having a bunch of people show up at the park” nights, and singing the national anthem with my high school show choir. Darryl Hamilton was signing autographs before the game on that anthem night, and I remember how game he was, signing whatever words we asked (I had him write “thanks for the tips!”, fellow HS singer Sheila had him write an elaborate love note along the lines of “you are my life…”) and how gracefully he handled it when Sheila asked him to prom.
Those minor league memories set the table for my major league experiences at Mile High, which were exclusively during the 1994 season.
I enjoyed one of these games with friends Michelle and Robby. Robby scores the games too, but he uses wacky hieroglyphics only decipherable to him. Archeologists could unearth my scorebook in ten thousand years, and would have no trouble whatsoever determining exactly what Eric Young did in the eighth inning that June day. If they unearth Robby’s scorecard…well…they’ll probably think it’s some failed architectural plan.
Mile High was also host to my only-ever scheduled doubleheader. I figured, hey, how could it get any better than this? A doubleheader with dad. That there is some father-son bonding. But there’s a problem…Rockies pitching. The doubleheader lasted absolutely forever. It resulted in one of only two times in my life I’ve been compelled to leave a game early…the damn 11th inning of the damn second game was positively–and unprecedentedly (see below)–endless. So I took pity on my Dad sometime during the eighteenth pitching change of the eleventh inning and let him take me home.
As much as I like the idea of the doubleheader, and as much as I laud suggestions that scheduled doubleheaders should be made more commonplace (this will never happen, however, as owners need each of the 81 games of revenue), I have a suggestion: schedule no doubleheaders between teams whose earned run averages, when added together, are higher than 9. We can’t handle that many walks and hits.
BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:
In the first game of the June 28 doubleheader, the Rockies come back from an 8-run deficit to win, a Rockies record at the time (over the year and a half they’d existed).
The Padres set a record in the second game for most runs scored in an 11th inning (since 1900), lighting the Rockies up for nine. It’s the only 11-3 pitchers’ duel I’ll ever see.(Written July 2001. Last updated July 2009.)