Colorado Rockies news and links for Tuesday, November 9, 2021
I’ve seen this sculpture since I was a kid and have loved it.
It suddenly disappeared with the construction of McGregor Square, and it needs a new home.
The “Evolution of the Ball,” designed by Colorado artist Lonnie Hanzon, stood outside the left field gate at Coors Field for years, welcoming fans as they approached a pedestrian bridge over 20th Street on their way into the ballpark. It was the gateway to Coors Field for people like myself, the routine ballpark travelers on RTD light rails walking in from nearby Union Station, or the ballpark connoisseurs that soaked in the magic of Coors Field from the outside in.
The Evolution of the Ball was a staple — until it wasn’t.
When McGregor Square was constructed, the sculpture was forcedly removed. The City of Denver mandated that a fire lane be placed on the north side of the new 13-story development, meaning the Evolution of the Ball had to go. We have not seen the $100,000-plus sculpture since removal, and fans like myself are forced to reminisce on a key ballpark feature that is now a thing of the past.
I seriously think the only thing missing from All-Star Week was this sculpture.
Where can we preserve the artistic integrity? The pedestrian walkway in left field was as much of a welcome as anywhere with this art behind it. Unless the sculpture is distastefully plastered right behind the “Player” statue at home plate, there aren’t many more locations around the park where it can serve its original purpose as a gateway.
Where can it go from here? Thanks to the help of Apple Maps, computer screenshots and creative brainstorming, here’s our preliminary options. (We’ll likely need Mr. Hanzon’s blessing for any of these sites, but hopefully we’ll be able to see it before long.)
Coors Field: Center field gate
The designated ‘Rockies-sponsored’ parking lots at Coors Field are beyond right-center field, lining the train tracks that lead out of Union Station to the northeast. If a gateway to the ballpark is what this sculpture is intended for, placing this monument just outside of the centerfield gate is a surefire way to make sure baseball fans walk underneath it again. It might get pushed too close against the brick of Coors Field, but some parking lot remodeling could make this a fitting reality.
Coors Field: Inside the park, by the playground in left field
I must admit that my five-year-old self fell in love with this sculpture for how playful and fun it looked. If it served as a gateway to the left-field playground at Coors Field, it stays close to the original placement, serving a kid-friendly purpose, and it’s arguably more visible than it was in the first place.
Ball Arena: Outside the main gate
Let it be known that this sculpture was intended for Coors Field and Coors Field only.
— but —
The Evolution of the ‘Ball’ could find a poetic new placement at the aptly-named arena across Lower Downtown. There’s currently a huge concrete walkway outside Ball Arena where this sculpture could go, and it’s arguably perfect if the baseball future of this sculpture has passed.
They would probably need to replace the bronze baseball atop the sculpture, however, and this alone will have Rockies fans like myself feeling a certain way.
Salt River Fields (Scottsdale, Ariz.): Outside the Rockies’ right field gate
The mini-diamond near the center of this aerial photo is a kids’ field on the first base side of the concourse. Just to the right of it is a gate that welcomes fans to Colorado spring training, and a small walkway leads people through the Rockies’ backfields and batting cages and into the stadium itself. It’s about as close as you can get to the original feeling you’d get walking into Coors Field with the statue in front of you.
The Evolution of the Ball is not exactly designed to fit the southwest architecture of Salt River Fields, so it might look a little out of place in Scottsdale. (That doesn’t make it any less cool, though.)
Double Angel Ballpark (Parker, Colo.)
The Rockies originally announced that Double Angel Ballpark would house their alternate site operations in April 2021 to accommodate the delayed minor league season. The decision was eventually reversed and the club moved the operation to Salt River Fields, where Rockies players could easily play games against other MLB affiliates at spring training sites.
Maybe the complex in Parker is fit for a delayed thank you, in the form of one of the most gorgeous art installations on the planet.
There is an entrance to Double Angel Ballpark that would be a perfect place for a give-back. In the same youthful spirit of cherishing that sculpture like I did when I was a kid, what better way to commemorate this installation than placing it at some amateur fields?
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Now it’s time for the more somber, less-optimistic headlines of the day: it’s time to imagine Jon Gray in something other than purple.
Mike Petriello of MLB.com takes a deep look into Gray’s home and road splits; while they are near-identical at first glance, Gray’s third time through the lineup in Denver is a little less favorable than elsewhere. If he’s to take on duties as a workhorse elsewhere, a new team could be getting even more of Gray later in games than they first bargained for.
The reality is also sinking in that Nolan Arenado swiped a Gold Glove away from Denver this time around, and the related offseason discussion has now ensured. Our friend Noah Yingling of Rox Pile covers defensive stats and voting guidelines, all while analyzing how and why Ryan McMahon was left without some hardware.
On the farm
It was a rather forgettable day for Rockies prospects in the Arizona Fall League on Monday. Matt Dennis took the start for the Rafters and allowed three earned runs in three innings, letting up four hits in his 56 pitches. Colorado hitters were a combined 2-for-9, while Willie MacIver and Ryan Vilade each recorded a single.
The Rafters and Saguaros only played seven innings due to available pitching, and the game lasted a blazing one hour and 41 minutes.
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