DENVER -- Opening Day 2005 -- which will be relived on MLB Network on Thursday at 7 p.m. MT -- will be remembered for Clint Barmes’ walk-off, two-run homer off the Padres’ Trevor Hoffman for a wild 12-10 victory at Coors Field.
But Barmes, one of an impressive group of rookies who made the feat possible, recalls it as the day he impressed his future father-in-law.
“My wife, Summer, and I were dating at the time and her parents were there,” Barmes said. “She tells me the story that her dad looked at her and said, ‘You didn’t tell me he was that good.’”
The Rockies were to have begun the 2020 season at San Diego on Thursday, but with the season delayed, MLB Network is airing a marathon of Opening Day games to help fans through this difficult time. Preceding the Rockies’ classic game will be Yankees-Indians 1996 at 11 a.m. MT, Giants-Dodgers 2013 at 2 p.m. MT and Giants-D-backs 2017 at 4 p.m. MT.
Additionally, at 1 p.m. MT on Rockies.com and the MLB Twitter feed, Rockies fans can revisit the Nolan Arenado 2017 cycle, finished with a walk-off home run. Using the hashtag #OpeningDayAtHome, fans can connect while watching.
April 4, 2005, turned out to be the earliest sign that the Rockies would grow into something special. It also was a harbinger of another Rockies’ win, and another Hoffman nightmare, in an even more important situation -- the tie-breaker for a postseason spot at the end of the 2007 season.
In ’05, the Rockies were at the beginning of a youth movement that, at times, was painful. They would become known -- well, derided in many circles -- as “Todd and the Toddlers,” a group that would have to grow up behind star first baseman Todd Helton. The team would go 67-95 and 76-86 the following year under manager Clint Hurdle before breaking through in ‘07.
But, man, what a beginning.
Barmes, who spent the first eight of his 13 seasons with the Rockies, didn’t mind being one of the Toddlers.
“For me, it was super-exciting -- my first Opening Day,” said Barmes, now 41. “Being part of Todd Helton and the Rockies was a dream. It didn’t bother me at all.”
Barmes said the game was “a blur,” which is understandable. The first six innings were that way for everyone watching or playing.
The Rockies had leads of 4-0 and 7-3, only to see the Padres grab an 8-7 lead in the sixth. Through six, the score was tied.
The Padres opened the seventh with home runs from Ramón Hernández and Xavier Nady for a 10-8 lead. When then-Padres manager Bud Black called on Hoffman in the ninth, it was supposed to be over.
Imagine being on the field, head spinning through the game’s ups and downs, with the ambition of trying to prove yourself.
“I was trying to prove that I could play the shortstop position -- that was a big subject going into that season,” Barmes said. “The talk was, offensively, I could hold my own, but I needed to worry about the defensive side of things.”
But it was hard to think much about the defense in this most offensive of contests. Barmes was 4-for-6 and didn’t even have the best day. He batted behind leadoff man Aaron Miles, who went 5-for-6 with three doubles.
“It was like having a man in scoring position the whole game,” he said.
But as the ninth began, the Rockies trailed by two. Five guys needed to come up for Barmes to get his chance and, Barmes reminded, “Trevor Hoffman was coming in to finish the game.”
But the Toddlers overran the future Hall of Famer.
Jeff Baker doubled and then scored on Cory Sullivan’s first Major League hit, a double. Miles singled to bring Sullivan home with his fifth hit of the game to tie the score.
Barmes had heard stories and seen the video of Hoffman’s famous changeup. So, he came to the plate determined not to see it.
“At that point we had nothing to lose,” Barmes said. “It’s clear I didn’t want to get behind, so I was going to swing at the first fastball I saw. I got a good pitch to hit and didn’t miss it. That home run was something I’ll always remember.
“It may have been my next at-bat when I faced him, he struck me out and came away saying, ‘That’s a really good changeup.’”
Barmes floated around the bases -- and kept going. Through June 5, he batted .329 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs before being felled by a collarbone injury.
“The high I was on just carried and carried,” he said.
Did that day play a factor in Oct. 1, 2007? In the game at Coors that determined the National League Wild Card, the Padres took a two-run lead on Scott Hairston’s homer in the top of the 13th and gave the ball to Hoffman.
Three extra-base hits and Jamey Carroll’s sacrifice fly to drive in Matt Holliday later, the Rockies were headed to the postseason.
“Coors Field is a funny place,” Barmes said. “Trevor is a Hall of Famer for sure, but in a situation like that, you’d have to wonder if it was in the back of his mind. You’d have to ask him. Sometimes even great pitchers end up on the tough side of things.”
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.