The best part? Maybe it's how quiet they were about it.
We all know what year-end awards like Sportsman of the Year usually celebrate: Great deeds performed on the biggest stages. Super Bowl champions, Olympians, men and women responding under the brightest of lights to produce a result that astonishes. You know:
But this year's rightful Sportsmen are nothing like that. They lost the 2007 World Series, first of all. And, really, what they did has nothing to do with sports.
On Oct. 4, Colorado Rockies manager
After Hurdle's revelation, the players refused to fall into the hands of a media horde desperate to give the story its proper due. Who first had the idea to give the money to Mike's pregnant widow,
"It was a team decision," said outfielder
You could almost feel the unspoken imperative seeping through their answers:
Ballplayers are notoriously cheap, especially with playoff shares, and the '07 Rockies ranked 25th out of 30 in team payroll. Few, if any, of the Colorado players had actually met Coolbaugh; he had been a member of the Rockies organization for three weeks before dying on that field in Little Rock, Ark. Yet, if they didn't know him personally, the Rockies knew him well -- or at least what he represented.
A 17-year baseball lifer who had played just 44 games in the major leagues, who had seen nearly every opportunity at the bigs derailed by a freak injury or the dreaded numbers game, Coolbaugh was a symbol of the fate they all had avoided in realizing their dreams. That he then became the sport's most notorious victim since 1920 -- when
On the evening of Oct. 1,
But she had reason again: The Colorado Rockies needed to win that play-in game against the San Diego Padres for the right to move onto the National League Division Series, and the organization had sent word her two sons, 5-year-old Joey and 4-year-old Jake, would throw out the ceremonial first pitch of their first home game if the Rockies made the playoffs. Colorado won that play-in game, beating San Diego in 13 innings to begin its playoff run, her phone ringing throughout as family and friends called in to cheer the boys on. Mike never made it to the playoffs, you see.
A few days later, Mandy learned about the players' vote.
"For the team to do something of this magnitude shows such great generosity," Mandy said. "Turn on the news and all you hear about is people doing hateful things to each other. Then you hear about these guys taking so much out to give to us, and it reminds you that there's so much good in the world."
Can you name any other team, or superstar, who did that this year?