Father’s Day this year was a special one for dads and Colorado fans alike, but for one Rockies fan who was sitting in the stands with his father that fateful afternoon, it was a day he’ll not soon forget.
Although Cleveland native Mitch Lombard, 20, plays basketball for the University of Colorado, he’s always held baseball in a special place in his heart. For the first six years of his life, prior to moving to Castle Pines, Colo., Lombard said he was a huge Indians fan. Over the past 14 years, however, the Rockies have slowly grown on him.
“I think at this point, I’m starting to become much more of a Rockies fan, and I think a lot of that is due to Nolan Arenado and players like that,” Lombard said.
Although he ultimately chose the hardwood over the diamond as a kid, Lombard said that things might have been different if Arenado was playing in the bigs when he was growing up.
“It’s nice to have a guy like that in Nolan Arenado that’s just so fun to watch,” Lombard said. “He’s my favorite player. I think I used to just be in love with shortstops. My favorite player ever was Omar Vizquel, he used to play for the Tribe. Now, I’m like, I would want to be a third baseman. I was telling my dad that if Nolan Arenado had been here when I was growing up, I would probably be still trying to play baseball. That’s the big thing I tell him, just because of how much I love Arenado.”
On Sunday, Lombard’s favorite player gave him a day to remember, as he started off the afternoon with a rare triple – rare for him, at least – and followed that up with a double and a single. And although he struck out during his fourth at-bat, Lombard knew something legendary was brewing.
Heading into the ninth, the Rockies held the slight 3-2 lead over the Giants, but that wouldn’t last long. A two-run homer from Hunter Pence and an RBI double from Brandon Crawford later, the Giants were back on top, leaving the Rockies with work to do.
After Raimel Tapia hit a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth, the succession of batters that followed set up perfectly for Nolan to nab his first career cycle, and the eighth in Rockies history.
“My dad and my parents were like, ‘You want to leave? You want to beat the traffic home?’ once the Giants took the lead,” Lombard said. “And I said, ‘No, I can feel something special’s about to happen.’ So we turned our caps inside out, put our rally caps on, and when Nolan stepped up to the plate, I could feel it. First pitch, he hit it out of the stadium, so that was unreal.”
Prior to closer Mark Melancon‘s sole pitch to Arenado, the remainder of the sold-out Coors Field crowd was absolutely electric. After Arenado hit the ball right over the Jimmy John’s sign in left field and into the hands of a (probably) sad Giants fan for the walk-off three-run homer, the place was an absolute party.
“What was funny about it is so many fans left the stadium, and that’s not saying the Rockies fans aren’t great,” Lombard said. “They are. They left before we even blew the lead, just because they thought we were going to win.
“Just even how loud that little amount of people could be – because I looked around the stadium and there was a lot of people, but it wasn’t sold out anymore – just how loud everyone got, that’s the loudest I heard the stadium, and I used to go all the time. I used to go back when we had Helton and Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki, and even then, it wasn’t that loud. Those were the golden years.”
For Lombard, Sunday’s game was the highlight of an already impressive Rockies season.