Ticket sales for Rockies games keep expanding at a record pace

May 02, 1993|By PETER SCHMUCK

It has been 100 years or so since there has been a mother lode like this in the Rockets. Colorado's expansion franchise may not look like much on the field, but the new team's home attendance numbers have far exceeded any reasonable expectation.

No one was terribly surprised at the major-league record crowd of 80,227 that attended the Rockies opener on April 9. Mile High Stadium had the capacity and who in the Denver area didn't want to be there for the first game ever played by the club. But there was room to wonder if the Cleveland syndrome would set in soon thereafter.

The Indians draw more than 70,000 fans to their home opener every year, then are fortunate to pull in 15,000 for the second game of the season. The Rockies have averaged 58,940 through their first 13 home dates and already have sold 220,000 tickets to this weekend's four-game series against the Atlanta Braves.

The club has sold about 3 million tickets and is on pace to blow away the Toronto Blue Jays' all-time single-season attendance record.

There is little chance of the Rockies keeping up this pace, but here's their projected season attendance total at the current rate: 4,774,140.

The Orioles can have their 65 straight sellouts. The Rockies are enjoying their early-season gold rush so much that they may redraw the blueprints for the new stadium that is going to be built for the team.

Coors Field was going to be a cozy little place that held 43,500 fans, but the attendance explosion may force planners to increase capacity to as much as 50,000. They are taking a lesson from Camden Yards, which could fill another 5,000 seats for almost every game.

What next?

Baseball players turn to all sorts of people to solve their problems -- trainers, physical therapists, even psychologists and hypnotists -- but Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tom Candiotti ought to win the Fickle Finger of Fate Award for this one.

Candiotti has turned to a manicurist in hopes of getting his knuckleball under better control.

Actually, it isn't as strange as it sounds. Candiotti is 0-3 with a 6.54 ERA, and the root of his problems may be a twice-broken fingernail on his pitching hand. Hence the trip to the manicurist to see if there is anything that can be done to strengthen the nail.

"If I can let it grow out, I'll be all right," Candiotti said. "I don't like talking about it, because it's some what embarrassing."

Unmanageable

Was there a full moon, or what?

On the same night last week, Kansas City Royals manager Hal McRae declared war on small appliances at Royals Stadium and Orioles manager Johnny Oates held a meeting in Chicago that was so long that the new Comiskey Park had gone out of warranty by the time it was over.

The two incidents were not directly related, except in the way that they were turned into significant news events. Oates' meeting became the subject of tremendous curiosity, though it was nothing more than a clubhouse encounter group. McRae's tirade was nothing that Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda hasn't done 10 times in his career, but Lasorda never drew blood.

The only common link between Oates and McRae is the frustration both have experienced during the early weeks of the season. The Orioles were supposed to be an American League East contender, but got off to one of the worst starts in club history. McRae has waited a long time to field a competitive team, but the Royals only recently have begun to play competitive baseball.

The mild-mannered Oates has had his outbursts, too. Both managers have had otherwise easy-going personalities transformed by the intense pressure to win at the major-league level. Can anyone who has gone home and yelled at the kids after a tough day at work really blame them?

Rockies infielder Charlie Hayes struck out for the first time this year on Wednesday -- in his 80th plate appearance of the season -- to become the last regular player in the major leagues to record his first K.

Perhaps this wouldn't be newsworthy if Hayes was a noted contact hitter, but he struck out 100 times last year and has averaged one strikeout every 5.8 at-bats during his major-league career.

Boddicker gets his chance

Former Orioles pitcher Mike Boddicker had disappeared into the Royals bullpen when the Milwaukee Brewers acquired him last week for a minor-league player to be named.

"I was in limbo there," Boddicker said. "I didn't know what was going to happen. It wasn't a good situation for me in Kansas City. There are no hard feelings. I just wasn't in their plans. This is all I want. I'm going to get the ball every five days."

That is the plan, but Boddicker didn't do much with his first opportunity. He gave up 12 hits over six innings in a loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

California dreamin'

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