07/26/2003 10:18 PM ET
Racking up ribbies: Wilson hits 100
Rockie reaches century mark with two homers
DENVER -- Preston Wilson witnessed Colorado Rockies history along with the 40,675 in the Coors Field stands on Saturday night.
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Wilson's fourth-inning solo shot, his second homer of Colorado's 13-8 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, gave him 100 RBIs for the season and made him the fastest player in club history to reach that mark. He did it in the Rockies' 107th game, one game faster than Andres Galarraga in 1997. Wilson also leads the National League in RBIs.
But almost as eye-catching as the number was the style. Wilson didn't move far from home plate, just a couple of walking steps, as he watched the record-setting RBI sail on its 427-foot arc over the center-field fence. The first homer, a two-run shot off Brewers starter Matt Kinney in the third, he punctuated by looking to his teammates in the Rockies dugout before gazing skyward at the flight.
However much he seemed to admire his work on the field, he spoke humbly in the dressing room afterward.
"It's definitely an honor when you think about some of the great names that have played here and had great careers on this team," said Wilson, now with a team-leading 27 home runs this season. "It's something to look at, and it's kind of unbelievable."
And so what if he has a great time doing it?
Wilson, whose season-high for RBIs is 121 with Florida in 2000, points out he is not directing any of his home run celebrations at his opponent, and he doesn't yell or point at the opposition. He has not been victim of many retaliation pitches this season. His first home run pitch was inside, so he had to "stay back," and on the second he had to reach for an outside breaking ball.
"It's like when the pitcher strikes you out and they get excited and pump their fist," Wilson said. "Hey, they've got the right to be excited. When you start playing this game without emotion ... Everybody doesn't play the game the same way.
"Who wrote the rule that says you're not allowed to have a personality on the field? As long as it's not malicious, as long as it's not directed at any one particular person, you're allowed to have a personality on this field."
Wilson, acquired by the Rockies in a trade with Florida during the offseason, has been a huge part of the Rockies' personality this season.
Since 2000, the Rockies' batting order has had Todd Helton and Larry Walker batting interchangeably in the third and fourth spots, depending on injuries and hot streaks. This year, manager Clint Hurdle decided to break up Helton and Walker, left-handed hitters, with the right-handed slugging Wilson. During Spring Training, Wilson struggled while adjusting his stroke and Hurdle briefly considered reuniting Helton and Walker. He's glad he didn't now.
Walker's 91 RBIs at the All-Star Break were the most in NL history at that point of the season, and fifth-most at the break all-time. The Rockies once featured a lineup known as the Blake Street Bombers, with Walker, Galarraga, Dante Bichette and Vinny Castilla, and have had 24 players reach 100 RBIs in a season. Now that Wilson has won the race to 100, the next club milestone is Galarraga's club-record 150 RBIs in 1996.
"It's just very impressive," Hurdle said. "He's reached that milestone quicker than anybody else that has worn the Rockie uniform, and there have been some darn good hitters that have come through."
Walker realizes that batting behind Wilson takes RBI chances from him, but he is enjoying the view of Wilson from the on-deck circle.
"That's fine," Walker said. "He drives in runs -- somebody's got to drive them in. Who cares who it is? He's done an awesome job of it."
Wilson is happy the RBIs matter, which is often the case during high-scoring games at Coors.
On Saturday night, the Rockies still trailed, 8-6, after his two homers. But his work helped the Rockies stay close until the bullpen entered and pitched 5 1/3 shutout innings. Wilson finished the night 3-for-5.
"The thing that anybody in the lineup hopes is that they drive in the meaningful runs," said Wilson. "They want to drive in the runs that tie it, put you ahead or help you come from behind.
"You take all of them, no matter when they come, but the ones that mean the most to you put something on the other team. They kind of take some momentum from them."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.