DENVER -- When Evan Gattis launched his sixth homer of the season in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader, it was a homecoming of sorts. Gattis spent seven months living in nearby Boulder, splitting his time between working as a lift operator at the Eldora Mountain ski resort and at Nick 'n' Willy's pizza shop.
The homer gave Gattis at least one home run in each of the five parks he's played in since making his big league debut in the second game of the season. He went 2-for-9 in the two games he played during the three-game set. When asked whether his time at the top of a ski lift helped him prepare for Tuesday's record-breaking low temperatures (20 degrees at the first pitch of Game 1), he acknowledged a comfort level in Colorado.
"I always feel good at altitude, I don't know why," Gattis said. "I always felt like I was built for altitude. I like the way my body feels here for some reason."
Gattis first came to Colorado to visit his sister, who worked in an outdoor program for troubled youth a little north of Boulder, and he had a hard time leaving once he'd spent some time in the area.
"My mom bought me a plane ticket out here to come visit, and I went home and said I got to move here," Gattis said. "I just absolutely fell in love with the place. I cruised around and went to Gold Hill, Jamestown, Nederland. I really just fell in love with the place."
Once he made the move, his work at local hotspots like Eldora and the original Nick 'n' Willy's gave him a quick indoctrination to the Boulder culture. He joined the ranks of commuters who thumbed their way up and down Boulder Canyon en route to the nearby ski mountain.
"I'd hitchhike to work all the time, and there was this one lady that picked me up pretty regularly," he said. "A lot of musicians come out of Nederland, a whole bunch. It's a cool place. Very relaxed."
Gattis has looked at home in Colorado, welcoming his mother, aunt, twin sisters, and a host of friends from Dallas, as he's continued staking out turf in his first tour of big league ballparks.