DENVER -- It felt like a homecoming of sorts for manager Joe Maddon and Cy Young Award winner David Price as they opened a three-game set in Colorado Friday, with Price salivating over the chance to take batting practice in the Mile High City and Maddon greeting friends who helped give him his start in baseball over 35 years earlier.
"Love this part of the world," Maddon said Friday. "This is how I got my break coming out here in 1975." Maddon played for the Boulder Collegiates, a semi-pro team that featured the likes of Tony Gwynn, Joe Carter and Mark Langston in his later years when he was a player-coach with the club.
"We won the national championship in Wichita, Kansas," Maddon recalled. "That's how I got signed. I would not have been signed had I not gone to Boulder in 1975. That's another do-over. If you could hang out in Boulder in 1975 again, you would do that in a heartbeat."
For Price, he'd already been pitching in the Majors for four months in 2009 when he first came to Colorado to face the Rockies, but it was his first chance to hit, and he knocked a single against Aaron Cook, the Rockies all-time winningest pitcher.
"Michel Hernandez just got on base with two outs, I'm pretty sure it was in the third inning," Price said. "I hit a high chopper over Aaron Cook's head. He was a sinkerballer throwing 93, 95, so it was a win in itself just putting the bat on the ball. Troy Tulowitzki came in, I had Michel Hernandez running very hard to second base, I didn't say very fast, but he was running very hard and Tulo kind of bobbled it a little. He was going to flip it to second for the third out, but he couldn't get the ball out of his glove, so he made the throw to first, and I think I ran like a 3.7 to first base. I got a knock and I was hitting 1.000."
He has a couple souvenirs from the game, including the actual ball from his first hit and a fake ball that James Shields marked up for him, writing "First hit off of Dane Cook at Mile High Stadium, ran a 4.0 flat to first base," Price recalled. "He wrote a whole bunch of weird stuff on there, so it was pretty funny."
Friends of Price's parents were also at the game and made a commemorative mug for him.
"They took pictures of me pitching, took pitchers of me hitting, and then made a coffee mug with three pictures on it, one of me standing in the box, one of me at first base smiling extremely big, and then a shot of the scoreboard, where it said 'Price 1.000,'" he said. "At that point, I was one of the best hitters in the league."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.