03/12/2010 2:59 PM ET
Rockies to celebrate Dante Bichette's career in pregame ceremony on April 26, 2010
Date marks the 15-year anniversary of his historic Opening Day game-winning home run in extra innings
DENVER - The Colorado Rockies announced today that the club will honor Dante Bichette's career in a pregame ceremony on Monday, April 26, 2010, at Coors Field. The event, which will be held prior to the Rockies vs. Diamondbacks game (6:40 p.m. MT), is scheduled to take place on the 15-year anniversary of Bichette's historic game-winning home run in the first-ever regular season game played at Coors Field. Bichette had a 14-year Major League career, including seven seasons in a Rockies uniform (1993-1999). He retired prior to the 2002 season, following his last year as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
Bichette, a four-time All-Star, hit .299 (1,906-for-6,381) with 274 home runs and 1,141 RBI in 1,704 career games as a member of the Angels (1988-1990), Brewers (1991-92), Rockies, Reds (2000) and Red Sox (2000-01). He hit at least 20 home runs in eight consecutive seasons from 1993-2000, while also averaging 114 RBI per season in that eight-year span. He earned Silver Slugger honors as an outfielder and was the runner-up in the National League's Most Valuable Player voting in 1995, when he led the league with 40 home runs and 128 RBI. Bichette represented the National League All-Star team for three consecutive years, from 1994-1996, and again in 1998. The slugger finished third in the N.L. in hitting in both 1995 (.340) and 1998 (.331). During both of those seasons, he led the Senior Circuit in hits (tied with Tony Gwynn in 1995). In fact, from 1994-1998, no other player in the Majors had more hits than Bichette's 934 base knocks.
Several of Bichette's career highlights came while he was wearing a Rockies uniform. Perhaps his biggest moment was in the inaugural game at Coors Field, on April 26, 1995. In that contest, an 11-9 victory vs. the New York Mets, Bichette hit a game-winning three-run home run in the bottom of the 14th inning to send the Rockies to victory. With that swing, Bichette earned a spot in Rockies history; he and Clint Barmes remain the only Rockies players to hit walkoff home runs on Opening Day; and Bichette, Ryan Spilborghs and Omar Quintanilla are the only players in franchise history to end a game of 12 or more innings with a home run (Bichette did it twice: also, August 20, 1996 vs. St. Louis, 13 innings).
One of the most accomplished players in Rockies history, Bichette hit .316 (1,278-for-4,050) with 201 home runs and 826 RBI in 1,018 games for Colorado. He continues to rank among the franchise top ten in the following categories: games played (4th), at-bats (4th), runs scored (3rd-1,278), hits (3rd), doubles (3rd-270), extra-base hits (3rd-489), total bases (3rd-2187), multi-hit games (3rd-372), home runs (4th), RBI (3rd), walks (9th-226), stolen bases (3rd-105), batting average (6th) and slugging percentage (6th-.540). Bichette also ranks second on the franchise's all-time list in outfield assists (73), trailing only Larry Walker (94) in that category. Only Matt Holliday has started more games in left field than Bichette (539 games), and only Larry Walker and Brad Hawpe have amassed more starts in right field (424 games) than him.
Bichette was part of the "Blake Street Bombers" along with Walker, Andres Galarraga and Vinny Castilla, a powerful foursome that helped the Rockies lead the league in home runs four times in a five-year span, from 1995-1999. Bichette averaged 145 games played, 95 runs scored, 182 hits, 38 doubles, 28 home runs and 118 RBI per season while with the Rockies. He was the starting right fielder for the N.L. All-Star squad at Veterans Stadium in 1996, becoming the first Colorado player to start in a Midsummer Classic. He mixed power and speed in 1996, hitting 31 home runs and stealing 31 bases as he and Ellis Burks became the first players in franchise history to log "30-30" seasons. On June 10, 1998 vs. the Texas Rangers, Bichette doubled, homered, tripled and hit the game-winning single in the 10th inning to complete the first cycle in Rockies club history. He scored an expansion-record 93 runs for the first-year Rockies in 1993, and he also hit the first home run by a Colorado player, a solo shot off New York Mets right-hander Bret Saberhagen, on August 7, 1993.
An original Rockie, Bichette was acquired by Colorado from Milwaukee in exchange for outfielder Kevin Reimer on November 17, 1992. Prior to that trade, Reimer was selected by the Rockies from the Texas Rangers in the first round of the Expansion Draft, which was held on that same date. Bichette's tenure in Colorado ended on October 30, 1999, when Colorado sent him to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds and right-handed pitcher Stan Belinda. When he left Colorado he was the all-time franchise leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and RBI. Additionally, his six grand slams for the Rockies were tied with Galarraga for the franchise record at that time.
Bichette was originally selected by the California Angels in the 17th round of the 1984 Amateur Draft. During his career he was involved in trades for 1978 National League MVP Dave Parker, Reimer, Hammonds and right-handed pitcher Chris Reitsma. He played his final season and a half with the Red Sox before signing a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in January 2002 but retired on March 22 before ever playing a game for the Dodgers. In August of 2004, Bichette rejoined professional baseball as a pitcher and first baseman for the Atlantic League's Nashua Pride. He won the Atlantic League's Player of the Month award for August after hitting .361 with 13 home runs during the month. He also recorded his first save on August 28, going 4-for-5 with two home runs and eight RBI in that same game.