The Colorado Rockies defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday in LA, 3-2 in extra innings.
The game was impressive because the Rockies didn't quit, and, even when they failed with runners in scoring position, they kept fighting.
However, this day, for anyone who has followed the Rockies for any amount of time, was about Brad Hawpe.
Hawpe came to the Rockies in June of 2000. He has just led the LSU Tigers to a National Championship, and as an 11th round draft pick, was not the most exciting candidate from the Rockies draft class.
He quickly made his impression on the organization and made his Major League debut in late 2004. In 2005, he was having a good rookie campaign before tearing a quad and missing almost two months. He impressed the Rockies enough to make him their everyday right fielder starting in 2006.
He continued to become an important part of the up-and-coming Rockies. When the Rockies were referred to as "Todd and the Toddlers," Hawpe was very much a part of that. He was also a very prominent part of the "Gen R" campaign that the Rockies marketed.
In other words, Hawpe was a part of the package that the Rockies had been telling their fan base was on their way through the minors while the team at the big league level was struggling to win 70 games. He was a huge part of the reason that fans were willing to come back to the Rockies.
No fan will ever be able to forget his home run in late September of 2009 in San Diego. The Rockies were in the midst of what would become a historic run. They knew that a three game series in San Diego was a must-sweep series. In the 14th inning, Hawpe laced a pitch from tough lefty Joe Thatcher deep.
While it sounded like the ball it was hit hard enough for it to get out of the park, everyone knows that hitting a home run to dead center field at Petco Park late at night is nearly impossible. The ball, however, simply kept traveling and landed on the other side of the fence. The win kept Colorado's run alive. As it later turned out, without that home run, there are no playoffs and no World Series for that club.
Hawpe probably will not go down as a guy who was a fan favorite. He always loomed in the shadows of Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, or Matt Holliday. Hawpe was never the best player on the team, yet he always seemed to factor into big games.
Many fans might not remember that he was the only Rockie over the course of three years who could even touch Dodger starting pitcher Brad Penny. He smacked home runs consistently off of the big righty, often setting up situations like Helton's walk-off home run off of Takashi Saito to kick off the historic 2007 run.
It is hard to believe that just 13 months ago, Hawpe was the lone Rockies position player in the All-Star game. He kept the Rockies in the race while the rest of the team floundered at the beginning of 2009.
The fact is, Hawpe's departure marks a sad day in Rockies history. While the decision may have been a little later than when it was due, it is a tough one to swallow.
Hawpe was a part of the group of players that decided that it was a good thing to wear a Rockies uniform. He was one of the players who helped lift the Rockies from the laughing stock in the league to a serious contender. His clubhouse leadership, by all accounts, made settling for mediocrity something that simply was not an option.
He was a player who represented what the Rockies were looking for in the clubhouse. A guy who could go about his business and take pride in his talent, yet care more about wins and losses rather than his own personal numbers. He is a guy who the club didn't have to worry about getting into trouble off of the field or cause an embarrassing situation.
Simply put, Brad Hawpe is a class act and is a huge part of what has become the fabric of the Colorado Rockies. It is sad to see him leave.