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SBD/Issue 152/Sports Industrialists
Rockies Remember Keli McGregor After His Sudden Death At Age 48
Published April 21, 2010
|Rockies Will Wear Uniform Patches
Honoring McGregor Beginning Today
The Rockies last night honored late President KELI MCGREGOR by "hanging a jersey with the No. 88, his football number, in the visitors dugout" for their game against the Nationals, and the team will "wear uniform patches recognizing McGregor beginning today," according to Troy Renck of the DENVER POST. McGregor, 48, was "found dead in a hotel room in Salt Lake City" yesterday morning, "news that numbed the organization." Salt Lake City Detective Rick Wall indicated that McGregor died of natural causes, adding, "We didn't see anything suspicious." The official cause of death is "being investigated by the Salt Lake City Medical Examiner's Office and is not expected to be released for two days." McGregor was in Utah "making a promotional appearance" with other Rockies execs, including Chair & CEO CHARLIE MONFORT and Exec VP/Business Operations GREG FEASEL. He is survived by his wife, LORI, and four children: daughters JORDAN, TAYLOR and LANDRI, and a son, LOGAN. McGregor joined the Rockies in '93 as Senior Dir of Operations and "steadily moved up the ladder until being named" team President in '01 (DENVER POST, 4/21). MLB Commissioner BUD SELIG said yesterday, "He was a young man who walked into the room with an older group, and commanded respect. He brought a new thought process into the group and did it in a way that it was accepted and welcomed" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/20). Monfort: "Words cannot describe the level of shock and disbelief we are feeling at the loss of Keli" (DENVER POST, 4/21).
HUGE INFLUENCE WITHIN ROCKIES: The DENVER POST's Renck notes McGregor’s influence within the organization "was huge." He was the "top decision maker for the Rockies during the most turbulent time in franchise history," and was so committed to the team that he "turned down an offer to run" the Falcons. He spent "much of the past 18 months spearheading the relocation of the Rockies' Arizona spring-training site from Tucson to Scottsdale" (DENVER POST, 4/21). Players agreed that McGregor's “compassion and patience ... helped transform the Rockies from a perennial loser into a model franchise." Many of the players were close to McGregor because he "worked out with them or made a genuine effort to get to know them" (DENVER POST, 4/21). MLB.com's Harding & Schlegel write McGregor may be "best known for being instrumental in creating a variable pricing structure by which fans can buy tickets that include high-profile games without having to buy an entire season ticket." The Rockies have been credited as the "first in baseball to come up with such a structure." McGregor in his 17 years with the Rockies "impressed many around baseball with his acumen and personality" (MLB.com, 4/21). The DENVER POST's Renck wrote, "It's impossible to underestimate how large a role McGregor played in the franchise's rebuilding over the last several years" (DENVERPOST.com, 4/20). FSN's George Frazier said he is sure the jersey that hung in the team's dugout last night "will travel with this Rockies ball club for quite some time, and deservedly so because Keli is going to travel with all of us forever" (FSN Rocky Mountain, 4/20).
A CALMING PRESENCE: FOXSPORTS.com's Tracy Ringolsby wrote McGregor was the "calming influence in the Rockies organization." He was the "stability that allowed the Rockies to undertake their long-term rebuilding plan that has resulted in the franchise using a home-grown nucleus to advance to the postseason twice in the last three years." His abilities "did not go unnoticed" around professional sports, as he was a "frequent target of other franchise owners." Ringolsby noted there is "every reason to think McGregor would have been the type of candidate" to succeed Selig as Commissioner. The Rockies did not have a "succession plan in place" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/21). Ringolsby noted Selig said that McGregor "could come in and he could take ideas and take the emotions out of the discussions and help everybody get a clear picture of what was going on. I think that translates to why the Rockies are where they are today. … The success of this franchise in the last few years is really a tribute to his leadership." FSN's Drew Goodman: "He had a presence and a vitality that you just couldn't help but notice him, and yet he was about all the right things. He was an extremely warm person, an engaging person, very passionate" (FSN Rocky Mountain, 4/20). MLB.com's Hal Bodley, who covered McGregor for years, wrote, "McGregor made you feel like you were his best friend" (MLB.com, 4/20).
REMEMBERING A FRIEND: Several players, coaches and friends yesterday paid their respects to McGregor:
- Mariners President CHUCK ARMSTRONG: "Keli McGregor was one of the finest individuals I've known" (MLB.com, 4/21).
- D'Backs President & CEO DERRICK HALL: "This sport lost a true friend and gentleman today" (MLB.com 4/21).
- Yankees President RANDY LEVINE: "He was a wonderful guy with a lion's heart. ... Everybody loved him" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/21).
- FSN's Frazier: "Not only Colorado is going to miss him, all of baseball is going to miss him" (FSN Rocky Mountain, 4/20).
- Former Rockies Vice Chair JERRY MCMORRIS: "No question about it, he was a special man" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/20).
- Rockies manager JIM TRACY: "In my opinion, he embraces everything and been in the forefront of everything the Colorado Rockies are about and represent" (DENVERPOST.com, 4/20).
- Tracy: "I'm stunned. ... I want to understand this, but I don't. He has been in the forefront of everything that the Colorado Rockies are about" (USA TODAY, 4/21).
- Rockies SS TROY TULOWITZKI: "He treated everybody with respect, no matter if you were a fan coming into the ballpark for the first time or a player. You look at how he lived his life and you want to model that" (DENVERPOST.com, 4/20).
- Rockies hitting coach DON BAYLOR: "He has left a huge void in the organization" (DENVER POST, 4/21).
- Pro Football HOFer JOHN ELWAY: "He was a great soul. He was very humble, kind of a gentle giant" (DENVER POST, 4/21).
- Rockies 1B TODD HELTON: "He was a very compassionate man who loved this team and loved his family even more" (USA TODAY, 4/21).
- Rockies 2B CLINT BARMES: "For us to be where we are at and who we are right now, none of it would have happened without Keli. ... We are losing not only a great leader, but a great man" (DENVER POST, 4/21).
- FSN's Goodman: "I don't know of anybody that I have ever come in contact with who had anything negative to say about Keli and didn't hold him in the highest regard" (FSN Rocky Mountain, 4/20).
- Rangers hitting coach and former Rockies manager CLINT HURDLE: "Just a really great man. A great family man. A man of faith. He stood for so many things all the time" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/21).