Rockies say bye-bye to Hi Corbett
The Denver Post
TUCSON – And the winner, or should we say the loser, is . . .
“Barmes,” said Todd Helton. “It’s got to be Barmes.”
That would be Clint Barmes, the Rockies’ second baseman and, it turns out, the foremost accidental tourist in franchise history.
Barmes, by unofficial decree of Helton, has made more bus trips to the Phoenix area from Tucson than any other Rockies player. And his virtual trophy was retired Wednesday, when the Rockies played their final game at Hi Corbett Field.
OK, so maybe it shouldn’t get him the key to the city. But after surviving all those treks up Interstate 10, they should at least give Barmes the keys to the bus. Let the record show that Barmes is bursting with pride over his hard-fought victory. Or not.
“It probably is me,” Barmes said. “Todd has been around longer, but he hasn’t made many trips for a while now. I guess I have to wear that one.”
Barmes is a veteran of eight major-league camps in Tucson. In an average year, the Rockies take about eight bus trips a year. Figure in an occasional trip off and Barmes has taken 50 trips. At 240 miles round trip, that’s 12,000 miles of his life spent watching cacti fly by.
The Rockies, after 18 years in Tucson, will move into a state-of-the-art facility near Scottsdale next year. And they couldn’t be happier. Why? Three reasons: location, location, location.
“That’s pretty much the final thing,” Troy Tulowitzki said. “Tucson has been great to me and the organization, but the bus trips are tough on the team. It’s pretty much a full day by the time you get home. Other teams don’t have to deal with that.”
The Rockies saying goodbye to Hi Corbett didn’t exactly parallel the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn – though Wednesday’s attendance of 6,817 was more than the 6,702 who showed up in 1957 for the Dodgers’ Ebbetts Field finale – but it did mark the end of an era. The old ballyard at Hi Corbett was just that,
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an old ballyard. It hosted spring training since 1947, when Bill Veeck brought the Indians to Tucson.
Why Arizona? Veeck thought Larry Doby, the American League’s first African-American player, would be more comfortable there than in Florida’s racial climate of the 1940s. Doby is one of 75 Hall of Famers who walked on the field at Hi Corbett. The roll call includes Ted Williams, Satchel Paige and Willie, Mickey and the Duke. And while he wasn’t Cooperstown material, Charlie “Wild Thing” Sheen brought the pill there in “Major League.”