DURING THEIR FIRST EIGHT SEASONS, the Colorado Rockies had 91 players (many over multiple seasons) throw 171,910 pitches to 47,083 batters. In 1,233 regular-season plus four playoff games in that time, they averaged 139 pitches per game.
All but 16 of those tens of thousands of heaves came from individuals identified solely as pitchers. The other 16—nine strikes and seven balls (two that went to the backstop)—were thrown to five batters by a catcher, Brent Mayne, pressed into service as the team’s 10th pitcher of the night, in the top of the 12th inning of a tie game.
It was the first time in its short existence that the club had asked a position player to take the mound in a game that counted—five seasons after the dramatic opening of Coors Field and seven years before the equally dramatic Wild Card tiebreaker game with San Diego that led to the Rockies’ first World Series appearance.
After that night in 2000, more than two years would pass before the Rockies asked another nonpitcher to throw in a regular-season game, and on that occasion the score was anything but tied. With the Dodgers beating Colorado 16-3, Todd Zeile, who started 138 games at third base in 2002, came on to get the last three outs. In their first 30 seasons, the Rockies asked only seven position players besides Mayne to go to the mound, and all of them threw in a game long out of reach. Only one, outfielder Randall Grichuk on June 1, 2022, retired the side in order, and that was the last home inning of Miami’s 14-1 victory in the first game of a doubleheader.
The game against Atlanta on August 22, 2000—a 7-6 Rockies victory—would make history, and not just because a non-pitcher pitched for Colorado for the first time.
The Rockies would tie the National League record (and set the club record) for most pitchers used in an extra inning game, with 10. And the 10th would be Brent Mayne, who was injured and unable to do anything but throw.
Mayne would become the first position player to be the winning pitcher in a Major League game in 32 years. And a rookie would make it possible by getting the first hit of his Major League career.
For historical perspective, the story begins early in the second half of the New York Yankees’ dismal 1968 season.