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10 players you forgot were Rockies

March 13, 2019

DENVER -- Anyone steeped in Rockies history knows that the Rockies won the first home game in their existence -- April 9, 1993, at Mile High Stadium. And it doesn't take long to recount that the first home at-bat ended in an Eric Young home run off Expos starter Kent

DENVER -- Anyone steeped in Rockies history knows that the Rockies won the first home game in their existence -- April 9, 1993, at Mile High Stadium. And it doesn't take long to recount that the first home at-bat ended in an Eric Young home run off Expos starter Kent Bottenfield.

But anyone recall whose glove squeezed the ball for the final out of the 11-4 victory?

Fans most likely remember Dale Murphy's outstanding -- borderline Hall of Fame -- career with the Braves. But for 26 games of that inaugural season, Murphy wore purple pinstripes.

Every team has players who were stars in one place, but had brief and undistinguished time in an unfamiliar uniform. And the Rockies have had their share.

Now, the Rockies don't have a Harmon Killebrew, who became famous with the Twins but -- few people remember -- finished up with the Royals. They don't have a pitcher like Trevor Hoffman, who many forget broke in with the Marlins before going on to excellence with the Padres. In fact, no Hall of Famer has ever played a single game for the Rockies. (The only Hall of Famer to wear the team's uniform was Goose Gossage, who served as a pitching adviser and donned his familiar No. 54 in the dugout from 2003-04.)

But several well-known and accomplished players, like Murphy, or baseball figures known for their work beyond their playing days, passed through the Rockies' clubhouse. Here are 10 players whose names you may know but who spent easy-to-forget days in Colorado:

Dale Murphy, 1993
After three pedestrian seasons with the Phillies, Murphy took a $2 million pay cut to join the expansion Rockies. In that first game, he had a seventh-inning RBI single for a 10-0 lead. But he didn't start -- Dante Bichette did. And Murphy would manage just a .143 average, no home runs and seven RBIs in his 26 games before ending his well-respected career.

Jamie Moyer, 2012
After being out of the Majors for two seasons, Moyer -- at age 49 -- signed a Minor League contract with the Rockies and pitched his way onto the team. On April 17, Moyer became the oldest Major League pitcher to earn a win when he went seven innings of a 5-3 home victory over the Padres. Moyer won again on May 16, at 49 years and 180 days, when he threw 6 1/3 innings and drove in two runs in a 6-1 victory over the D-backs at Coors. But that was the eighth of his final 10 appearances in the Majors.

Roy Oswalt, 2013
Oswalt was a three-time All-Star, won the 2005 National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award and took the 2006 NL ERA title -- all with the Astros. He spent time with the Phillies and the Rangers before signing a Minor League contract with the Rockies going into the 2013 season. Oswalt made the team, but made just nine appearances (six starts) and was 0-6 with an 8.63 ERA. During that season, Oswalt missed two months with a left hamstring injury that he sustained covering the plate after a wild pitch.

Greg Vaughn, 2003
Vaughn appeared in four All-Star Games and hit 355 home runs in his career, including seasons of 41 in 1996, 50 in 1998 and 45 in 1999. But in 2003, he was a short-timer with the Rockies. He hit .189 with three homers and five RBIs in the final 22 games of his career.

Howard Johnson, 1994
Mets fans remember "HoJo" as a star on the 1986 World Series-winning team, and recall his NL-leading 38 homers and 117 RBIs in 1991. Rockies fans barely remember his 93 games in 1994, when he batted .211 with 10 homers and 40 RBIs.

Jose Contreras, 2009
With much fanfare, Contreras defected from Cuba to join the Yankees in 2003, and would pitch at times with distinction for five teams in an 11-season career. His brief time with the Rockies was significant. He came in a trade with the White Sox in 2009 and helped the Rockies to the postseason by going 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in seven games, two of them starts.

Craig Counsell, 1995, 1997
Now known as manager of the Brewers, Counsell was an 11th-round Rockies Draft pick in 1992 who saw all of four games -- three in '95, one in '97 -- with the club. Blocked at shortstop by another future Major League manager, Walt Weiss, Counsell was traded to the Marlins, where he began in earnest a career that saw him earn two World Series rings.

Ron Gant, 2001
A two-time All-Star early in his career, Gant's most significant Denver moment came on a visit to Coors Field. He was playing for the Reds in 1995 when a woman ran onto the field and kissed him. Gant signed with the Rockies for the 2001 season, but after 59 games (.257, 8 HR, 22 RBIs) the Rockies sent him to the Athletics.

Eric Byrnes, 2005
The Rockies acquired Byrnes, a hustling player whose knowledge of the game and quirky personality have made him a popular MLB Network analyst, on July 13, 2005. He had been in purple pinstripes for all of 17 days when he was sent to the Orioles for outfielder Larry Bigbie.

Brian McRae, 1999
McRae may be best known as the son of Hal McRae, a standout in the 1970s and '80s with the Reds and Royals. Brian McRae, however, managed a solid 10-season career. His time with the Rockies was notable in that he never wore the home uniform. In 1999, the Rockies acquired him from the Mets and used him in seven games of a road trip before trading him to the Blue Jays.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.