Friday, December 23, 2011

Homegrown Homecoming: David Nied

David Nied's name will always be remembered by true blue Rockies fans. He was the first player to officially join the roster, taken in the expansion draft from the Atlanta Braves. He had made his debut the previous September, so when he came to the Rockies he had only 23 innings of major league experience. When you consider who the Braves had coming down the pipe back then, it's no wonder they didn't protect Nied in the draft.

Nied earned the opportunity to start the very first Rockies game on April 5th, 1993. The offense couldn't give him a single run, so he recorded a loss. And truth be told, he really wasn't very good. He managed only one winning season (9-7 record in 1994), and his ERA was below 4.00 only once: 1992, when he pitched in six games for the Braves. In '93 he issued 42 walks and only struck out 46. In his final season, 1996, he only pitched 5 1/3 innings, but he found a way to walk 8 guys in those innings. This is especially weird when you consider his stats with the Richmond Braves in 1992 (a team that also featured Tom Glavine and Kevin Millwood). His K/9 rate was 8.52 and his BB/9 rate was 2.36. Go figure.

So what happened to David Nied? How did he go from being the pitcher Don Baylor felt most confident about on opening day 1993 to disappearing into obscurity after appearing in just eight games in his final two seasons? Well, he mostly pitched at Mile High, and that turned out to wreak more than the average wear and tear on an arm. There's also some speculation that the premature birth of his son during the 1993 season proved to be a distraction to big to overcome. And he has said that he tried to come back too quickly following the 1994 strike, not conditioning his arm properly prior to pitching.

Nied was granted free agency following the 1996 season and signed with the Cincinnati Reds. But it was clear that he was shot, and he opted to retire rather than take a minor-league assignment with the team. He was supposedly happily married and living with his family in Dallas, though if Wikipedia is to be believed, he's now married to a former contestant from The Bachelor. And if you go to the website for the TV show Southwest Outdoors Report, there is a host mentioned by the name of Heather Cranford-Nied. And YouTube has a video of her performing her hosting duties. So there you have it. I prefer to remember David Nied as the first face of the Rockies franchise. We could have done far far worse than him.

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