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Rocky Mountain Fever
Rick Reilly
June 14, 1993
Bitten by the baseball bug, Coloradans turn out in enormous numbers to cheer their puny Rockies
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June 14, 1993

Rocky Mountain Fever

Bitten by the baseball bug, Coloradans turn out in enormous numbers to cheer their puny Rockies

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City officials are holding their breath waiting for the bottom to fall out of Rockymania, but it may never happen, just as it has never happened to Broncomania. The Broncos have had 23 years of consecutive sellouts, and there are 5,000 names on a waiting list for season tickets.

Maybe that's it. Maybe so many Coloradans spent so many years pining to get their own seat at Mile High Stadium that when some became available, they scarfed them up like free hams. In Denver a season ticket at Mile High became so scarce that owning one became a societal badge of honor. Now 28,627 more fans can say they have their own.

Actually, Rockymania extends beyond the borders of Colorado. The Rockies sold season tickets to residents of 36 states—tons of them in Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, some in California and Florida, a few in Canada—and one in Puerto Rico. (Puerto Rico?) For Rocky games the Mile High parking lot tends to look like the one at the Disneyworld Contemporary Hotel, with cars from hither and yon—Pagosa Springs and Ogallala, Santa Fe and Billings, Pueblo and the Oklahoma panhandle. When McMorris was asked by National League executives, "How far will you draw?" he replied, "I'd say up to 500,600 miles."

"No, no," said the National League suits. "We mean people who actually come to the games."

"That's what I mean," said McMorris.

But out here, in the land of the 76 MILES TO NEXT ROAD SERVICES sign, people think nothing of a 110-mile commute. At a Bronco game, the RVs are lined up as far as the eye can see for just one game. "We knew they'd drive 'em down for four games," says McMorris, a Colorado native.

The Rockies' other gusher of fans has been Hispanics. The team has a Hispanic minority partner in Denver lawyer Linda Alvarado and a Hispanic superstar in Andres (Big Cat) Galarraga, who has been among the National League's leading hitters this season. Denver proper is 23% Hispanic, so signing Galarraga made a lot of sense. "The Hispanic community loves the Broncos," says Alvarado, "but this is a game at which we excel."

Galarraga is getting the picture, too. "Are you as big in this town as John Elway?" he is asked.

"I think so," he says with a big-cat grin.

Of course he is not, but Elway might occasionally like to trade fans with him anyway. The fans who go to Rocky games are much different from those that go to Bronco games. Basically, the Broncos draw the same 76,000 people who have been going to their games the last 20-some years. "It's the same faces every Sunday," says one off-duty cop, who works security for both teams. "You can't tell a Bronco fan anything." No wonder. After being left at the Super Bowl altar three times, the average Bronco fan is about as cuddly as a dyspeptic rattler.

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