DENVER – David Wright called it “a big, big thrill” and a “once-in-lifetime opportunity.”
He was talking about meeting Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who visited Coors Field today and walked into the stadium with Wright and some other Mets.
One thing: Manning didn’t recognize the Mets’ third baseman. Wright was wearing a sombrero and fake mustache as part of the Mets’ special Western-themed attire team-building exercise.
The Mets also wore the get-ups on their flight to Houston last night. "It caught me off guard," Manning said. “Jon Rauch almost broke my hand shaking hands with him. And he introduced me to some Mets teammates. And I heard this guy say, 'David Wright.' I was like, 'That isn't David Wright.' He was in a full mustache, sombrero -- the full hat. It caught me off-guard. I was glad to see him in his normal Met uniform [later]. That's a good deal. I know baseball has some unique traditions and customs. That was kind of fun to witness."
Manning is friends with Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, a fellow former University of Tennessee quarterback, so this was not his first visit to Coors Field. In fact, the Rockies let him work out there last summer as part of his rehab from neck surgery. Manning couldn’t use the Indianapolis Colts’ facilities because of the NFL lockout.
Manning is also friends with another former Volunteer – Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey, who also arrived at the ballpark in full Western gear. The three posed for pictures behind the batting cage during batting practice.
"R.A. was in school with me,” Manning said. “It was great seeing him. I was sure to get a picture of he and Todd and I . . . Pretty good for three guys who were all in school at the same time back in the mid-'90s to still be doing it. I'm real proud of R.A., what he has accomplished and conquered. The Tennessee Volunteers all keep up with each other."
Manning, a former shortstop, has taken batting practice at Coors before, but he didn’t yesterday. Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker did.
"I love baseball," Manning said. "I grew up playing baseball. My dad [Archie] was a big baseball fan growing up. He played for Ole Miss and he was drafted. He was a Yankee fan growing up. I was always a Cardinal fan growing up. But, really, since I got to college, I really haven't been in a Major League Baseball town anywhere I've been -- New Orleans, Knoxville, Indianapolis. So really, since I've been in pro ball, the Rockies have been the team that I've kept up with, the team that I checked the boxscore, checked to see how Todd is hitting. They're certainly my team now, for sure.”