Baseball Legends Revealed #23

This is the twenty-third in a series of examinations of baseball-related legends and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of all the previous baseball legends.

In honor of the opening of the 2010 baseball season, each legend installment this week (and last week and most of next week) will be a baseball one, spotlighting legends from one of the eight playoff teams last year. Today the featured team is the Colorado Rockies.

Let’s begin!

BASEBALL LEGEND: A Rockies coach quit the team (and retired from baseball) in the middle of a game!

STATUS: True

Like few other people in the world of baseball, it can definitely be said that Don Zimmer’s whole life pretty much revolved around the game of baseball (not counting his family, of course).

After making the big leagues as a player in 1954, Zimmer pretty much has been working in baseball ever since!

After his days as a player, he worked as a coach and as a manager for a number of teams, including the San Diego Padres, the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox.

In 1993, he was part of the very first coaching staff of the expansion baseball team, the Colorado Rockies.

He served as the bench coach for Manager Don Baylor (bench coaches serve as advisers to the manager and are also sort of insurance for the manager).

A few things changed going into the 1995 season, however.

For one, Zimmer had a minor health scare early in the season. For another, Baylor was clashing a bit with the General Manager of the Rockies, Bob Gebhardt, and Zimmer felt like he was somewhat caught in between the two men, as he was close to both of them and did not want to pick “a side.”

So towards the end of May, 1995, Zimmer informed the owner of the Rockies that he intended to quit the team (and ostensibly, baseball). Rockies’ owner Jerry McMorris offered to give him a special day to honor him, but Zimmer did not want that.

So on June 6, 1995, in the middle of the fifth inning in a game against the Cardinals, Zimmer went to the clubhouse, got his stuff together and quit.

Zimmer did not want to make a big fuss out of his departure, but even for him this was odd. After the game was over, team player representative Joe Girardi read a note from Zimmer to the rest of the team, saying goodbye.

Of course, retirement for someone like Zimmer would not last long – he could not stay at home when there was baseball to be played! One of his old friends, Joe Torre, became the new Manager of the New York Yankees in 1996, and Torre asked Zimmer to sign on as his bench coach.

Zimmer agreed, and he went on to enjoy an extended stay as Torre’s bench coach – to much media attention.

In 1999, he even served as a strong insurance policy for Torre, as Zimmer was acting manager for a number of games in 1999 when Torre was recovering from treatment for cancer.

After leaving the Yankees, Zimmer took a job with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, which is where he remains today, working as a “Special assistant” to the now Tampa Bay Rays.

Zimmer has been part of professional baseball for fifty-six of his seventy-nine years – and let’s hope he’s around for even more!

BASEBALL LEGEND: The Rockies were the victims of a “Denial of Service” computer hacker attack when they put their World Series tickets up for sale online.

STATUS: I’m Going With False

The 2007 World Series was a historic one.

For the first time ever, the 16-year-old Colorado Rockies franchise was playing in the World Series! They were faced off against the 2004 World Champions, the Boston Red Sox…

To best put this achievement into perspective, the Rockies had reached the playoffs in 1995, their third season in the Majors, and then did not reach the playoffs again until 2007! In fact, before 2007, their last WINNING SEASON was in 2000, where they were 82-80!

So I don’t think you can properly gauge just how much excitement that there was over the Rockies making it to the World Series.

On October 22, 2007, the Rockies began selling tickets to Games 3 and 4 (and a possible Game 5) of the World Series, which would be played in Colorado. In a slightly controversial move, the Rockies made the tickets available “first come, first serve” over the internet to whoever wanted to purchase them, whether you were a Colorado resident or, say, Ticketmaster.

The sale ended after 90 minutes, with the site being shut down and only 500 tickets sold.

The day of the event, Paciolan, the company that powered the website used to purchase tickets, claimed that they were the victims of a “DoS” attack.

A “DoS” attack stands for “Denial-of-Service” attack, where a hacker decides to shut down the service of a website through various means, including consuming mass amounts of the bandwidth of the website. This results in the site slowing to a crawl and often just shutting down altogether.

A famous example of this would be when a group of students at a university in Ireland shut down the website for Ireland’s Department of Finance using a “DoS” attack.

However, was this instance REALLY a “DoS” attack?

First off, Paciolan later noted that they, in fact, shut down the site themselves because it was going too slow, choosing to try again the next day.

Their “proof” of the attack was that the site slowed down to a crawl and that they received eight and a half million “hits.”

Eight and a half million hits sounds like a lot until you figure just how many times someone can refresh a site waiting for the tickets to be available. It has to be a pretty large amount of times, right? In addition, large ticket re-sellers often employ “bots,” programs that refresh a system constantly in an attempt to purchase tickets online. When you consider the demand for these tickets, eight and a half million hits in 90 minutes seems perfectly reasonable, really.

In June of 2009, when Michael Jackson died, so many people flocked to Google for information that, for a short period of time, Google was not working. People at first thought it, too, was a DoS attack, but then realized that it was just a staggering amount of people that not even Google’s highly developed system could handle.

That certainly seems to be what happened here, particularly as the same site then went up the next day and took over 150 minutes to sell out of their 52,000 seat inventory.

150 minutes to sell 52,000 seats?

Popular concerts in giant stadiums can sell out in less than 10 minutes and it took 150 minutes to sell out the World Series?

It seems that the site just did a better job of pushing all of the traffic to one dedicated server and processing them (and the large amount of “bots”) all over a length of time.

At the time, the Rockies would neither confirm nor deny that there was an attack, although eventually the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) did, indeed, step in to investigate. They never made any findings, which sure made it seem like the FBI’s involvement was more about face-saving than anything else (“Look! The FBI is investigating! So it MUST have been hackers and not just us not being able to withstand the traffic!”).

Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t tell you with absolute certainty that the Rockies were NOT the victims of some strange hacker group, but I can say that I think the odds are slim enough that I’m willing to lean towards “false” on this one, especially as the evidence for it being a DoS attack seem mostly to be “because we said so.” Unless, of course, you wish to claim that a large amount of “bots” trying to purchase tickets counts as a DoS attack, and I do not believe that it does, as a DoS attack is about intent to deny service, which those bots were not trying to do, but rather just trying to purchase as many tickets as possible.

BASEBALL LEGEND: A Rockies fan lost a leg in an escalator accident at Coors Field!

STATUS: True

A real “attack” occurred at Coors Field in July of 2003 when the escalators on Coors Field turned on its patrons!

More than 47,000 people attended the Wednesday night game at Coors Field between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 2nd, many of whom likely attended because of the post-game fireworks display.

Coors Field is serviced by a number of escalators that can get pretty darn steep at times when it connects the upper level to the ground level.

After the fireworks were over, an escalator at Gate C broke, with the crowded escalator coming to an abrupt start, which, in and of itself, threw people down, and then rapidly accelerated, which resulted in people being thrown forward, with dozens of people being thrown together into a pile at the bottom of the escalator (where the bottom of the escalator almost works as a jagged “mouth”).

An investigative report after the accident determined that faulty wiring and a broken “safety switch” led to the accident.

Peggy Nance needed over TEN surgeries from her injuries suffered in the accident, including the amputation of her left leg four inches below the knee!

Naturally, Nance sued both the Rockies and Kone, Inc, the manufacturers of the escalator.

As of a few years back, Kone and the Rockies were jointly settling with victims without accepting responsibility.

Last year, a survivor of the incident, Angela Morrow, was featured on Bio Channel’s popular “I Survived…” series.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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One Response to “Baseball Legends Revealed #23”

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