DENVER -- Coors Field went from a winter wonderland to a frozen field of dreams on Tuesday afternoon.
Rockies owner Dick Monfort, new knee and all, knows he'll pay at some point for his own efforts toward helping remove eight inches of snow from the field of play in cold temperatures, but it was worth it to him.
The snowstorm that forced Monday's scheduled game with the Mets to be postponed dumped at least eight inches on the field. It was more than was expected in a short time, and the low of 24 degrees made it colder than expected, as well. With Monday's game being moved to an afternoon start as part of a doubleheader, Monfort arrived at 7:45 a.m., to too much snow and not enough time to remove it.
It turned out no machine could do the work of humans. Between 100-150 people, most of them Rockies employees who showed up and grabbed shovels without being asked, shoveled away the snow. The game started two hours, two minutes after its scheduled start time in 39 degree temperatures, but it started nonetheless. The temperature was tied for 10th-lowest at game time in Rockies history, at Mile High Stadium or Coors Field.
More snow was expected to arrive Tuesday evening, but the Rockies hoped to be able to get in the second game of the doubleheader.
Chief baseball officer Dan O'Dowd was shoveling. So was Bill Geivett, the executive vice president of Major League operations, who wore a parka with a Montreal Expos logo -- for whom he used to work. Coaches helped.
No way Monfort was going to stand by and order around the many employees whose names aren't known by the public, but whose efforts are vital -- the office staff, the ticketing staff and others who work behind the scenes. Never mind that Monfort had knee replacement surgery during the offseason.
"People just started working on it," Monfort said. "People were coming to work and they'd see people out there with a shovel. They'd go upstairs, check their e-mail, and said, 'I'm going to go help the crowd out.'
"We sent an e-mail out saying, 'Hey, everybody come down here.' They started grabbing shovels and working. As you can tell now, had we not had 100 or 150 people out there, we'd have never gotten it off."
People shoveled snow into some small tractors. In some cases, people were scooping up a shovelful and carrying it behind the fence. The NFL's Denver Broncos helped by lending shovels.
Normally, with the work of head groundskeeper Mark Razum and his crew, getting Coors ready after a spring snow is not a big deal. But this was an unpredictable storm, and there was less time because of the afternoon start. The crew arrived at 5:30 a.m. MT, but would not have gotten the field playable for an afternoon game.
Also, in a case like this, the Rockies would have scheduled the makeup game for the last day of the four-game series, but the forecast for Wednesday is bleak.
Another factor is that the Mets don't return to Coors again this season. Their game Sunday against the Twins was called because of wintry conditions, so they're going to have to make a special trip to make that one up. Not wanting to make a special return trip to Denver, even Mets general manager Sandy Alderson joined the manual snow removal crew.
"He's as interested, if not more interested than we are, in getting in as many of these as possible," Monfort said.
Of course, playing conditions were imperfect. The infield was fine because it was covered by a tarp. The coils beneath the grass helped. The warning tracks, however, were going to be slick, in much the same way they are slick in a game played through rain, as often happens.
Monfort said he hopes there are no injuries. But he didn't mind hurting a little to help make the game possible.
"I am sore, but not as sore as I'm going to be, I'm sure," Monfort said. "It was incredible."