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Charlie Blackmon collects 1,500 major-league hits in Rockies obscurity

Jun 9, 2022, 4:31 AM | Updated: 11:08 am
Charlie Blackmon...
(Photo by Harrison Barden/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harrison Barden/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images)

Charlie Blackmon’s baseball career won’t culminate in Cooperstown, but the Colorado Rockies’ longtime rightfielder has quietly compiled an impressive major-league career since his debut on June 7, 2011.

“Clean-shaven, hair much shorter than it is now,” Rockies manager Bud Black said on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of Blackmon’s first appearance in the big leagues. “I didn’t know it was this specific date, but I do remember that left-handed-hitting outfielder up from the minors.”

Black, who’s only managed the Rockies since 2017, remembered it because he was the skipper of the San Diego Padres that season. Blackmon went 0-for-3 in his debut, but collected his first major-league the next evening against Black and those same Padres.

On the road against the San Francisco Giants, exactly 11 years later, Blackmon added hit No. 1,500 to the back his baseball card. Now only weeks away from his 36th birthday, the Rockies’ elder statesman reflected on his career prior to Wednesday’s 2-1, extra-inning loss to the Giants.

“Even playing just one day in the big leagues is so special,” he said. “I can’t believe I’m coming up on 10 years of service time (over a dozen major-league seasons), and to do it with one team makes it that much better.”

Blackmon’s loyalty is impressive, given that the Rockies will set a new franchise record for haplessness on Thursday, going 32 consecutive games without back-to-back wins as they plummet toward the National League’s cellar once again. Blackmon, now in his 12th major-league season, has seen the Rockies finish higher than fourth place in the National League West division only three times, all of which occurred between 2016 and 2018.

The Rockies appeared in the postseason in 2017, but lost their one-game wild-card matchup with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 2018, they won their wild-card game against the Chicago Cubs before being swept from the playoffs in the division series by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Blackmon’s gone only 2-for-19 (.105) in those five fateful playoff games, but Colorado would have never played on any of them without him. Blackmon hit .311 with 66 home runs and 174 RBI over those two playoff seasons, earning a pair of his four career All-Star nods in the process.

Even after 1,324 games in a Rockies uniform — most them without consequence through no fault of his own — the hunger for baseball still remains for the beloved, bearded Blackmon. ”

“I just want to be better at the game,” he said.

On Tuesday, Blackmon’s 200th career home run gave the Rockies a lead that they would hold in their eventual 5-3 victory over the Giants. But the grueling pace of baseball’s long season means that ebbs and flows are inevitable. Despite collecting his milestone hit on Wednesday — and throwing out a runner at home plate earlier in the game that helped get the game to extra innings — Blackmon overran a single to right off of reliever Carlos Estevez, committing an error that allowed Giants runner Donovan Walton, who had been held up at third, to score from second with the game-winning tally.

Now hitting .251 with nine homers and 30 RBI on the 2022 season, Blackmon’s name appears in the top 10 of nearly every statistical leaderboard in Rockies franchise history. Only Todd Helton has appeared in more games.

“Charlie’s the leader of this team, there’s no secret about that,” outfielder/first baseman/designated hitter Connor Joe said after Blackmon’s pinch-hit home run Tuesday. “We know when he’s not starting the game, he’s going to find his way into the game at some point, we just don’t know when. He always finds a way to get the big hit.”

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Charlie Blackmon collects 1,500 major-league hits in Rockies obscurity