Sitting and shivering in the stands were Cheyenne residents Chris Boswell, Rick Boomgaarden, and former Wyomingite Gene Bryan watching the Colorado Rockies play a good game with the Seattle Mariners.
The three men were in the shady stands at Salt River Field in Scottsdale, Arizona, where spring training is a ritual for major league players and their loyal fans.
We were there, too, and enjoyed seeing the Rockies play two games, a 7-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks and that 4-2 loss to the Mariners.
Wyoming, especially in Cheyenne and Laramie, has lots of devoted fans to the Colorado Rockies.
It was really cold in Scottsdale for the opener – we were bundled up with jeans and insulated vests, which helped in the cold shady seats. But it was comfortable in the sunny seats. A high school classmate of mine who lives in Scottsdale told me, when I asked her if she was going to the game: “We don’t do cold.” Ha!
As unseasonably cold as it was in Arizona (record snows had fallen that week in Flagstaff and Kingman), back in Wyoming it was also terrible.
Weather reports showed Interstate 80 was shut down and mountain passes were closed around the state with snow and wind. The mercury was plummeting too. No, although we shivered there in Arizona, we also realized just how good we had it.
I would recommend attending Spring Training to just about anyone. The weather is normally quite nice and the Salt River Park where the Rockies play is a spectacular venue. It is a terrific big league experience except the stadium holds 10,000 people instead of the 55,000 size at Coors Field in Denver.
This was our second year attending, and we loved it.
About half of the major league baseball teams play spring training ball in Arizona and the others play in Florida. The Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks went together and built probably the finest facility in the state.
I should also mention that my nephew Jeff Nelson works for the Rockies, which is a bonus.
We also met with Foster and Lynn Friess of Jackson and enjoyed breakfast with them. They were off to a Rockies game the day after we attended our games.
My history with the Rockies goes back a long way.
When major league baseball came to Denver in 1993, there was no journalist in Wyoming covering the Rockies as much as I did. As owner of the Wyoming State Journal in Lander, I had applied for and gotten full press privileges.
Our readers in Lander probably saw almost as much coverage about the Colorado Rockies, which were 360 miles away, than any other baseball fans in the state.
Plus we had a lot of Colorado connections back then. My folks lived in Lafayette. I had younger brothers living in Broomfield, Longmont, and Boulder. Two of our three daughters lived there. We made that long round-trip to Denver constantly.
As a rabid baseball fan, I was there on opening day back in 1993 and covered the team faithfully for the next six years.
Colorado set an all-time record for most fans for a season and led the league with the most fans. A huge number of Wyoming people were among those fans.
Those Rockies boosters still hold the record for most fans in a season, some 4.4 million, plus the largest crowd in major league history, over 80,000 at Mile High Stadium in 1993. I was there.
So Spring Training is special for me. I love the current team. Stars like Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Trevor Story are fun to watch. Arenado was hitting home runs during the games we attended.
Baseball is full of humor, too. My favorite baseball joke is a story about two old codgers who absolutely loved baseball. They watched every game they could during the season and spent the entire off-season reminiscing about the great games they’d seen and dreaming about the season to come.
One day their discussion turned to speculation over whether there was baseball in heaven. Finally, they made a pact that when one of them died and went to heaven, he would try to get a message back to the survivor.
Shortly thereafter, one of the two fellows had a fatal heart attack during the excitement of a doubleheader … and a few nights later, the survivor had a very vivid dream. In it, his dearly departed friend was sending him a message.
“Old buddy,” he said, “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that there is baseball in heaven. The bad news is that you’re pitching tomorrow!”
Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books. His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find them at www.wyomingwonders.com.