Saturday, August 27, 2011

Colorado Rockies: Successors to the Denver Bears Tradition

By Keith Antigiovanni

When Denver, Colorado was granted an expansion franchise in the National League it was the result of a century's worth of success in Minor League baseball for the Mile High City.

The Denver Bears began in at the start of the 20th century as members of the Western League in 1900. The Bears did not disappoint their fans when they won the the Western League pennant that year.

Denver went on to win 2 more regular season titles (1912, 1952) and a Western League playoff title in 1952. After the 1954 season the Bears moved to the American Association became a perennial powerhouse in the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's and early 1990's.

The franchise was so popular that the city of Denver built a stadium for them (Bears Stadium) in 1948. Bears Stadium went on to be re-named Mile High Stadium in the 1960's until it was torn down in the early 20th century.

Between 1956 and 1991 the Bears made the league finals 17 times and won the finals 7 times (1957, 1971, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1982 and 1991) and won the Triple A World Series in 1957 but on July 5, 1991 professional baseball would be changed forever in Denver when the Rocky Mountain area was granted an expansion franchise which would be named the Colorado Rockies.

The Rockies name was fit during the first two expansion cities when the club paid its' dues but the club would make the playoffs in 1995 as the NL Wild Card. They would also post winning seasons in 1996, 1997 and 2000 but would not make the playoffs.

The club struggled for the next 6 seasons until 2007 when the "Cinderalla" Rockies won the NL Wild Card, won the NLDS and NLCS to advance to the first World Series in franchise history.

2009 would be another playoff year as the Rockies won the NL Wild Card again. 2010 the team posted another winning season and were in playoff contention until the final two weeks.

Can the Rockies become a dominant team the way the Bears dominated the Western League/American Association? Its hard to say because the success of the MLB is dependent on payroll for the most part. There are some exceptions but teams cant win consisently without a high payroll or even a medium payroll.

In 2011 the Rockies are struggling again and appear to be thinking about 2012 after a disappointing season in 2011. If you are a Rockies fan then stay tuned. This team may have another "Cinderalla" season next year.

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