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First home blast alive in club lore

Rockies' first home blast alive in club lore

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Baseball played in the thin Rocky Mountain air was sure to produce a lot of home runs.

The first of many came from an unlikely leadoff man in the first Rockies at-bat at home during the team's inaugural season.

Leadoff man Eric Young stepped to the plate on April 9, 1993, against the Expos' Kent Bottenfield with all of Denver watching -- at least it seemed that way as a Major League-record 80,277 packed into Mile High Stadium.

Young sent Bottenfield's 3-2 pitch into the left-field seats and the Rockies' history book.

As Major League Baseball crowned a new home run king this week, memories of other famous home runs came to mind for baseball fans. For the Rockies, the most memorable home run in club history was Young's blast.

"It was an emotional high when I hit it -- like a volcano erupted in that stadium," Young said. "I was floating."

Teammate Vinny Castilla said: "I remember the home run. That was unbelievable, man. The crowd was unbelievable, too. There were like 80,000 people in the stands.

"First at-bat and the people were excited for Major League baseball, and he just hit it out of the ballpark. It was a great feeling. The stadium was rocking and you could see on Eric's face, too -- he was so happy and excited to start a season like that."

Young's homer propelled the Rockies to their first regular-season victory, 11-4. They would go on to win an expansion-team record 67 games in 1993. The home run was the first of 77 by the Rockies that season at Mile High Stadium.

Denver has always been a long-ball hitter's city. Barry Bonds, who owns the record for most home runs hit by a visiting player at Coors Field, has hit 29 in Denver.

Coors Field, which became the home of the Rox in 1995, ranks first, second and fourth in single-season home runs in a Major League park.

Prior to this season, the Rockies had hit 1,516 home runs at home, but none was as memorable as the first.

Young wasn't known as a home run hitter. He only hit one homer in his rookie season with the Dodgers in 1992 and he ended up hitting 79 during his 15-year career, including eight of the Rox's 25 leadoff homers.

When Young, of all people, led the game off with the shot heard 'round Colorado, Expos outfielders John Vander Wal and Marquis Grissom knew fate was on the Rockies' side that day.

"'Grip' looked at me and said, 'We're in trouble,'" Vander Wal said. "Under my feet, the ground was shaking. We knew we were in for something."

Denver had eagerly anticipated the arrival of its team. The day before Opening Day, there was a parade in the city, and even though it was a cold day, an estimated crowd of 200,000 congregated. A Major League-record 4,483,350 attended that first season. Mile High Stadium was expanded so the team could set the attendance record for the opener.

"I didn't know a stadium could hold that many people," Castilla said. "I remember driving to the ballpark. There was a lot of traffic and a lot of people driving around the stadium, and that was a celebration. That was big for the city, big for anybody that was part of the team that year."

C.J. Moore is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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