Rocky Mountain relics: Late Roy Halladay tops list of best Colorado natives in MLB history
As the Colorado Rockies are set for their home opener Friday afternoon versus the Atlanta Braves, the total number of Colorado natives who have actually participated in a Major League Baseball game sits at 92.
It’s just a half-percent of the total number of MLB players ever, which ranks Colorado as the state with the 16th fewest baseball players in the league’s history.
That said, the state of Colorado has a pair of flamethrowers to pride themselves on, including one long-time Hall of Famer and one likely soon-to-be inductee.
The late Roy “Doc” Halladay — who died in a tragic plane crash in November — tops the innings pitched list of the 62 hurlers who were born in Colorado and took the mound in the MLB.
Halladay’s 2,749.1 innings pitched over his 16-year career puts him in his own category among Colorado-born pitchers, as the Colorado native with the second-highest careers innings pitched total, Baseball Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, threw 1,809.1 innings in his career.
The Denver-born Halladay threw for two teams in his career, winning two Cy Youngs and earning All-Star honors eight times over his 12 years with the Toronto Blue Jays and four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Gossage, who was born in 1951 in Colorado Springs, became one of the greatest relief pitchers of all-time, his most successful stints coming in his five years with the Chicago White Sox and his six years with the New York Yankees, with which he won the 1978 World Series.
It’s another Colorado Springs man — albeit one born more than 110 years ago – that ranks as the third best Colorado native MLB pitcher in league history, ranked by innings pitched.
That Colorado Springs native, Gene Packard, posted a 3.01 ERA over a career that spanned 1912-19 with the Cincinnati Reds, the Kansas City Packers, the Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies.
As for Colorado’s best native batters in MLB history, that list totals 15,622 games played, 45,452 plate appearances, 10,016 hits, 566 home runs and 4,031 RBIs.
And of those 92 hitters who combined for a batting average of .249, it is current San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley, a native of Fountain, who has registered more plate appearances than any other Colorado native.
Headley, who finished fifth in National League MVP voting in the 2012 season when he won both a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove, has strutted to the plate 5,713 times as of Thursday afternoon. Headley returned to the Padres this season after a three-season stint with the New York Yankees, a sabbatical from San Diego that followed up his eight seasons to start his career for the Padres.
The 33-year-old Headley ranks nearly 500 plate appearances ahead of another relic of Rocky Mountain baseball past, Golden-native Roy Hartzell. Hartzell played in the league from 1906 to 1916, amassing 5,230 plate appearances during stints with the St. Louis Browns and New York Yankees, finishing 23rd in the MVP voting in 1914 while with the Yankees.
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