When the Colorado Rockies' 2016 schedule was released, many of their fans circled Monday's game on their calendar. They knew this was the date Troy Tulowitzki was returning to Coors Field as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. The reason why some fans circled this date are a bit more complicated than simple fandom.
Many fans, especially young adults, grew up with Tulowitzki. He had made his debut during the 2007 "Rocktober" season. His hot bat and stellar defensive plays late in that season fueled the Rockies to their only World Series appearance. The "clap-clap, clap-clap-clap Tulo" chant still echoes back to that month. For many fans, Tulowitzki was their first superstar. When he was traded last season -- while the Rockies were on the road, no less -- heartbroken fans cried, seeking Twitter for consolation. They felt they had missed their chance to say goodbye.
For other Rockies fans, Tulowitzki represented a lot of failed hopes. The Rockies haven't had a winning season since 2010, and Tulowitzki was a part of all of those losing teams. Many hopes rested on whether his health would hold up. Usually, it didn't. So, focused on winning, he rarely won and -- perhaps as a part of that -- rarely smiled. During the end of his tenure, he complained openly about the team's lack of success, echoing many fans' own gripes. That didn't win him any sympathy, though, and fans started viewing him as grumpy, then selfish, and overpaid for so often being hurt. Some tweeted good riddance, and others were ready to boo.
On social media before Monday's game, as Tulo started trending on Twitter, people wondered if he would be booed or cheered. Sometimes respect comes across better in person than on the Internet. When Tulowitzki was introduced during the pregame lineups, there was a big round of applause for him.
When he fielded a ground ball to short at the end of the first, he received another short burst of respect.
Then, when he came up to bat in the top of the second, he got a 30-second standing ovation. Tulo took off his helmet. He might not have smiled, but I almost thought he was going to cry.
Tulo steps into the batter's box to a standing ovation, followed by a chorus of cheers. Nice moment! pic.twitter.com/FkbDAbF6Qj
— #VoteRox (@Rockies) June 28, 2016
For those Rockies fans who wanted to, today was their chance to finally say clap-clap, clap-clap-clap for Tulo and say goodbye.
Richard Bergstrom writes about the Rockies at Rockies Zingers.