Rockies painting the town purple
Denver's buildings, residents show pride as Series arrives
DENVER -- There may have been a red sky over Boston last night, heralding Sox fans' delight, but as the Rockies took flight for the comforts of home, they chased a purple moon rising.The city of Denver has taken on a new hue over the past week. It started small, as the "Sleeper" house, high on a hill beside I-70 heading into the mountains, was lit up in purple earlier in the month, the first time the distinctive landmark from Woody Allen's futuristic '70s comedy was illuminated as a means of sparking civic pride. Slowly, the buildings in downtown Denver fell in line, and by the time the Rockies landed back in Colorado, Union Station was glowing beside their Coors Field home and the city's fan-in-chief, Mayor John Hickenlooper, had flipped the switch at the Denver City and County Building, lighting the crowning tower purple to show the city's support of the Rockies ongoing quest to claim the World Series title. "What's great about the Rockies is not just that they're winning, but how they're winning," Hickenlooper said earlier during their postseason surge. "These kids just don't quit. They never quit."
But lest anyone get the impression that Colorado's pride in the Rockies is only on the surface, folks inside these buildings are wearing their faith on their sleeves as well. Colorado's U.S. Senator Ken Salazar helped arrange for Manny Corpas, Sr. to get a visa on short notice so he could travel from Panama to see his son pitch in the World Series, while the Colorado state legislature's Speaker of the House, Andrew Romanoff, declared Friday as "Rockies Day," encouraging legislators to wear any Rockies gear they own and deck themselves in purple from head to toe.It's the kind of behavior one expects from school kids, particularly at the start of a long, full-moon weekend that promises to extend itself clear to Halloween. That's what the Rockies have done to the region, captivating the attention of fans, young and old, and igniting a fevered spark of anxiety and anticipation as Coors Field prepares to host its first World Series game. Appropriately enough, Jefferson County public schools have led the way, initiating "Purple Days" and spirit contests among the student body. At Ken Caryl Middle School, seventh-grader Austin Denike won a spirit contest by sporting a purple barrel bedecked with Rockies clippings, borrowing the time-tested fan favorite from the Bronco's well-known "Barrel Man." The school even temporarily lifted its ban on hats and caps -- as long as the hats of choice bore Rockies emblems. And while the kids dressed up and the politicians made declarations, renaming streets in honor of baseball's mile-high miracle workers, the city teemed with energy as passersby on the streets became instant brethren by virtue of a T-shirt, jacket, cap or accessory bonding them together in support of the Rockies.
At Coors Field, those lucky enough to score the hottest ticket ever sold in the city lined up at the box office to pick them up, reveling in the 70-degree weather as their team prepared to play a rain-soaked game at Fenway. They were the long-enduring faithful, fans who had supported the Rockies as season ticket holders from the team's inception, and the Rockies ride to the World Series had life-changing effects on some of them.One woman, a retiree who's hardly missed a game in 15 years as an usher at the park and a season ticket holder herself, was preparing to follow through on a bet she made with her children: if the Rockies went to the World Series, she would give up her 50-year smoking habit. No small task, but she was determined to keep her word -- after the Series ended. "I clapped so hard and so long in the 13-inning tiebreaker against the Padres, when I got home, my hands were bleeding," she said, before picking up her tickets and heading to the team store to update her gear with some World Series merchandise. The region's other heroes proved they were not immune to Rocktober fever, with Denver icon John Elway showing up at Rockies games and providing a videotaped rally call played over the scoreboard's jumbo screen, urging fans to cheer the Rockies on. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, a college teammate of Todd Helton's at the University of Tennessee -- where he started his career as Helton's backup quarterback -- wished his old friend the best, admitting to staying up late to keep up with the Rockies' historic run to the World Series. "What the Rockies have done has been nothing short of phenomenal," Manning said last week after Colorado clinched its first pennant. Musicians playing concerts in Colorado made sure to give a Rockies cheer, with everyone from Paolo Nutini and Loudon Wainwright to Stevie Wonder and Queen Latifah proclaiming purple as their true color. Local favorites from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Jimmy Ibbottson -- "I'm walking on air" -- to Leftover Salmon's Vince Herman -- "I'm a hardcore Rockies fans" -- to Sam Bush -- "Boy, am I glad Todd Helton chose baseball" -- are brimming with enthusiasm for the resurgent Rockies, as eager as anyone to root the Rockies on to a title.
|"What's great about the Rockies is not just that they're winning, but how they're winning. These kids just don't quit. They never quit."|
|-- Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper|
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.