On December 12, 2000, the Colorado Rockies made what turned out to be one of the most infamous transactions in the history of the franchise, acquiring free agent LHP pitcher Mike Hampton.

Hampton had shown tremendous promise for the New York Mets, particularly in the NLCS just the year before, and why he chose to leave may shock you.

A bit forgotten to history, Hampton actually had a stellar debut at Coors Field, and as most remember he put on a show with the bat, but he would ultimately become known as a big disappointment.

There’s a part of the story you might not know, though.

According to his public statements, apparently the thing that was most influential in bringing the All-Star lefty to Denver, Colorado was the public school system. Well, it sure wasn’t the winning tradition as the Rockies had just gone a half-decade without making the postseason and he just left the National League champions.

He signed an eight-year, $121 million contract in Colorado, one of the richest in club history (especially when you adjust for inflation) and would only spend two years with the team, making 62 starts, posting a 5.75 ERA.

After that, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for a package that included catcher Charles Johnson and outfielder Preston Wilson who had a few amazing moments for the Rockies.

Many believe that this series of events, along with a similarly-timed and disastrous contract given to Denny Neagle, scared the Rockies off from ever spending big money on free agent pitching ever again. They’ve offered some larger deals to arms already on the team but even now, 23 years later, the club tends to blink.

And none of it may have ever happened, if the Denver Public School system hadn’t been so attractive to Mike Hampton.

What a world we live in.

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