Nimmo, A Visitor at Home at Coors Field

The Rockies played the first game in franchise history on April 5, 1993. Nine days earlier, 100 miles up I-25 in Cheyenne, Wy., Brandon Nimmo was born. Nimmo and the Rockies grew up together.

Nimmo’s own youth baseball schedule precluded him from extensive visits to Coors Field over the years, but he remembers the Rockies games were on television at the Nimmo home all the time, and a couple times a year the family would make the trip south to see a game in person.

“When I was 12 years old, I was able to go down in the seats by the bullpen before the game started, and when the bullpen catcher looked up I held by glove out and he tossed me a ball,” said Nimmo. “I still have it at (his parents’) home. I’ll never forget that.”

Now, however, it is Nimmo creating memories of his own, the 16th Wyoming native to appear in the big leagues. And one memory he will cherish forever came on Monday night at Coors Field. Limited to one pinch-hit at-bat in his debut at Coors Field when the Mets visited for three games last season, Nimmo was in the lineup, hitting leadoff in the opening game of the Mets-Rockies series on Monday night.

He led off all right – racing around the bases on an inside-the-park home run. By the end of the 12-2 Mets victory, Nimmo also had hit a home run outside the park, over the center field fence, singled twice and drove in four runs in six at-bats.

Quite the night for the young man, whose family was in attendance along with the Post 6 Baseball Team, including some of his old teammates as well as the current roster, and were his guests on the field during batting price.

“It was good to be able to play like that, in front of family and friends, against a team I grew up watching, and in a stadium where I would attend games (as a youth),” said Nimmo. “It was a great way to start it off, just be able to take a deep breath and be like, `Okay, that was good.’”

And that all came on the heels of Nimmo delivering the game-winning, ninth-inning home run against the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Sunday afternoon.

This has been a “good” season for Nimmo. Other than being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas back in April, in a move that ended after three days because of an injury at the big-league level, most everything about this year, Nimmo’s seventh in pro ball, has been “good.”

He had his exposure to the big leagues the past two seasons, appearing in 32 games with the Mets in 2016 and 69 last year, but it was life as an extra man, rarely facing left-handed pitchers, and a lot of time adjusting to the challenges of the higher level of competition.

He began this year in the big leagues, but again it was in a part-time role, only to be sent to the minor leagues on April 10, and one game, two days later, get word that he was being recalled because Kevin Plawecki, a catcher, suffered a fractured left hand.

His playing time remained spotty. He started only seven of the Mets first 29 games of the season. All of that, however, has changed. With an assortment of injuries on the Mets, Nimmo suddenly got a chance to get in the lineup on a more regular basis, and Monday night he started for the 36th time in the last 40 games, having come off the bench in three others.

He has earned the opportunity with his performance. While he is four plate appearances shy of qualifying for official statistics put him at an elite level. His .603 slugging percentage and 1.013 OPS would both lead the NL, and his .410 on-base percentage would rank behind only Freddie Freeman of the Braves and Joey Votto of the Reds. He has hit 12 home runs, tied for the team lead on the Mets with Asdrubal Cabrera, who has 91 more at-bats than Nimmo.

Nimmo, however, has not become complacent, not after that quick trip to Vegas in April.

“It helps me remember how fragile this game is and how baseball can turn on a dime, and to enjoy every moment I am out there,” said Nimmo. “Jay (Bruce) has given me great advice over the years and one piece of advice he gave me is Scott Rolen was his mentor and told him that in 16 years in the big leagues he thinks he had it figured out for about six months.

“For me, that’s encouraging. If people who have been in the big leagues for 16 years don’t’ have it figured out all the time. So, when you have a day like (Monday or Sunday) you have to enjoy them and realize days like when I was sent down happen, and they can happen again.”

Nimmo, however, has found a way to avoid that happening again.

The folks at Coors Field on Monday night can attest to that.

Sweet 16: Wyoming Born Big Leaguers

Name Yrs From To ASG Birthplace Pos
Tom Browning 12 1984 1995 1 Casper P
John Buck 11 2004 2014 1 Kemmerer C, DH, 1B
Dennis DeBarr 1 1977 1977 0 Cheyenne P
Mike Devereaux 12 1987 1998 0 Casper OF.DH
Jan Dukes 3 1969 1972 0 Cheyenne P
Dick Ellsworth 13 1958 1971 1 Lusk P
Bob Harris 5 1938 1942 0 Gillette P
Jeremy Horst 3 2011 2013 0 Cheyenne P
Bucky Jacobsen 1 2004 2004 0 Riverton 3B/DH
Mike Lansing 9 1993 2001 0 Rawlins 2B/3B/SS
John McCloskey 2 1906 1907 0 Laramie P
Brandon Nimmo 3 2016 2018 0 Cheyenne OF/DH
Rick Sofield 3 1979 1981 0 Cheyenne OF/DH
Dan Spillner 12 1974 1985 0 Casper P
Zach Walters 4 2013 2016 0 Cheyenne Utility
Bill Wilkinson 3 1985 1988 0 Greybull P

Note: Sofield is a stretch. When he came to the big leagues in the late `70s with the Twins, he was approached about being from Wyoming. "I'm from New Jersey," he said. It was explained that in Baseball Reference they listed his birth place at Cheyenne. "Oh, that," he said. "My dad was at the base and was transfered. The day we were leaving my mom went into labor so she gave birth to me, and when she got out of the hospital we went to New Jersey."

Tracy RingolsbyComment