DENVER -- Josh Fogg lives his baseball retirement in Tampa, Fla., free of the trappings of celebrity.Fogg's numbers over nine seasons in the Majors with four teams -- 62-69, 5.03 ERA in 243 games that included 194 starts -- are usually followed by, "Think of how good you have to
DENVER -- Josh Fogg lives his baseball retirement in Tampa, Fla., free of the trappings of celebrity.
Fogg's numbers over nine seasons in the Majors with four teams -- 62-69, 5.03 ERA in 243 games that included 194 starts -- are usually followed by, "Think of how good you have to be to not only make it, but stick around that long ..." But Fogg's work in late 2007, the brightest days in Rockies history, led to a colorful nickname -- even fantasy artwork -- and gave him a celebrity level in Denver that still takes him aback.
"When I was doing some TV stuff for the Rockies, I'd walk through the concourse at Coors Field out to that center-field [camera]," said Fogg, who is spending time with his family this year but has discussed returning to a broadcast role. "It was kind of a question: 'Is that Dragon Slayer?' But you hear it in passing and it's nice to know that you are remembered."
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In the middle of 2007 -- which ended with the Rockies winning 14 of their final 15 regular-season games and seven straight postseason games before being swept by the Red Sox in the World Series -- Fogg won games against the Red Sox's Curt Schilling and the Yankees' Mike Mussina.
Then, in September, Fogg made five starts opposite Brandon Webb (D-backs), Chris Young (Padres), Dontrelle Willis (Marlins), Brad Penny (Dodgers) and Derek Lowe (Dodgers) -- All-Stars all. Fogg went 3-0 with a 3.25 ERA and the Rockies won all but one of those contests.
Matthew Holliday, then and now a Rockies outfielder, dropped the colorful nickname during a postgame interview -- and a legend was born.
"I remember that it seemed that for the last six to eight weeks, every time we faced an ace from the other team [when] he was pitching for us, and we seemed to somehow be winning those games," Holliday said. "As we continued to win, I remember thinking that he was taking down all these dragons around the National League."
By August of that season, injuries had reduced the original rotation to Jeff Francis, the 17-win bell cow of the rotation, and Fogg -- with rookies Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales, plus journeymen picked up along the way -- Elmer Dessens, Mark Redman, Ramon Ortiz -- making starts.
"Francis was the leader of the staff, by far the leader on the field -- we looked to him every fifth day," Fogg said. "My role was more of the vocal guy in the clubhouse to keep it light. Pitchers and position players didn't really hang out a ton, but I was kind of the bridge between the two of them. I was the guy running the football pools or fantasy football."
The late run reached fantasy proportions for Fogg in Los Angeles, where he had not pitched well previously. In the middle game of a three-game sweep, Fogg faced Lowe and went 6 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and three walks, while recording five strikeouts, as the Rockies won, 2-0.
"We were rolling," Fogg said. "It wasn't that we were dominating. It was [just] everybody was doing their job enough. That game, I actually pitched better than some of the other games."
The Rockies and Padres finished tied for the National League Wild Card, and Fogg started against Jake Peavy in the tie-breaker game -- an eventual 9-8, 13-inning victory at Coors Field. He also earned two postseason wins, before taking the loss in Game 2 of the World Series.
That postseason, a painting of a kneeling Fogg -- holding a baseball with a defeated and bleeding dragon wrapped around him -- appeared in the clubhouse. An appreciative Fogg hung it in his children's play room for years. That room has been remodeled, but Fogg plans to display the painting again.
"Slaying dragons is a foreign concept to me," Fogg said. "My goal was -- if I was to go out there five, six, seven innings -- [to pitch] as long as I could. I knew I was going to give up runs at some point, but we were going to score some runs, too."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.