PITTSBURGH -- Prior to the start of an extremely rare series between two skippers who each have managed the other team -- Jim Tracy replaced Clint Hurdle at the Rockies' helm on May 29, 2009, and before that managed the Pirates in 2006-07 -- Hurdle was asked about the reunion with his former Colorado crew.
Hurdle answered with a lot of thoughtful sentiments, but what he said didn't reveal as much about his special feelings for Colorado, as how long he took to say it.
It turned into Hurdle's longest soliloquy of the year. For two-and-a-half uninterrupted minutes, he expressed admiration and gratitude for his big league home from 1997-2009. The last six-and-a-half years were as manager, highlighted by the memorable drive into the 2007 World Series.
"I don't have a 'CR' tattoo anywhere, but part of my heart will always hold great affection and appreciation for the time I was able to have in Colorado," Hurdle said. "I continue to get a kick out of seeing that championship flag flying out in left field, to be a small part of something that brought so much joy to so many people."
Hurdle paused to look over his left shoulder at the framed picture of Keli McGregor, the Rockies club president who passed away two years ago. Other than pictures of his family, it is the only picture on the shelves of his office.
"There aren't many days that I don't think of Keli McGregor," Hurdle said, "as instrumental as anyone I've come across in the game to help me grow up and become a man."