Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Matt Holliday receives standing ovation in return to Colorado Rockies lineup

When it comes to his time with the Colorado Rockies, Matt Holliday might be best known for his slide home in game No. 163 in 2007, when he may or may not have touched home plate, but he was called safe and the Rockies advanced to the postseason, which culminated in their first and only trip to the World Series.

Somehow, the team still had a pair of Holliday’s shoes from that season — and he needed them Thursday when he made his return to the Rockies lineup. The clubhouse manager dug through storage and pulled out a pair of his size 14 black cleats, because he only had gray cleats, which didn’t work with Colorado’s purple jerseys and white pinstripe pants.

Unfortunately, the shoes didn’t help him get a hit — he went 0-for-3 in Colorado’s walk-off win over San Diego — but they did make him feel at home. So did the fans, who gave Holliday a standing ovation before his first at-bat.

The 38-year-old outfielder was in Colorado’s starting lineup for the first time since 2008 after having his contract selected from Triple-A Albuquerque before the game. He was subbed out in the seventh, but not after a long drive in the fifth that he thought was gone.

“I remembered it was a tornado blowing in from left field,” Holliday told reporters. “I hit that good.”

The starting pitcher Thursday for the Rockies was Kyle Freeland, a 25-year-old Denver native who knew Holliday’s career well.

“That’s a guy I looked up to big time, when I was in middle school and high school,” Freeland said.

Selected by the Rockies in the seventh round of the 1998 MLB Amateur Draft, Holliday spent his first five seasons in Colorado, hitting .319 with 128 homers from 2004-08.

“I’m grateful to be back,” Holliday said Thursday, as the Rockies remained one game back of Arizona in the NL West. They are tied with Milwaukee for the second NL wildcard berth.

Now in his 15th season after stints with the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and Oakland A’s, Holliday is being looked upon to help the Rockies return to the World Series — now as the oldest and most experienced player on Colorado’s roster, which catcher and former teammate Chris Iannetta is thrilled about.

“It’s been surreal, back wearing Rockies gear and thinking back to some of these young guys in here,” he said. “Twenty years ago I was kind of in their shoes. It’s pretty neat to be back.”

During Holliday’s time with St. Louis, he found himself moving into a spiritual leadership role with the team. He would help lead Bible studies and other get-togethers — things he saw older players before him do when he was a young player.

Holliday says he’s called to the ministry of baseball, and he’ll share the Good News wherever he’s at.

“The times I’m not constantly pursuing my relationship with Jesus are the times when baseball just beats me up. When I’m chasing after Him, I have peace,” he says.

Holliday discussed his journey as a pro and a Christ-follower with The Increase:

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