Original Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris Passes Away At Age 71
Former Rockies Principal Owner JERRY MCMORRIS died yesterday morning at the age of 71 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer, and he will be "forever remembered as the savior of Major League Baseball in Colorado,” according to Patrick Saunders of the DENVER POST. There was a "moment of silence honoring McMorris" before last night’s Rockies-Padres game in San Diego. McMorris’ “crucial role of ensuring that big-league baseball survived and thrived in Colorado will be his legacy among area sports fans.” After Denver was awarded an MLB expansion franchise in ’91, “major problems soon arose" with MICKEY MONUS and JOHN ANTONUCCI, the Rockies' principal owners at the time. Monus was charged in a multimillion-dollar fraud and embezzlement scheme, and “the Monus-Antonucci financial partnership crumbled,” leaving the Rockies with $20M shortfall. MLB was "on the brink of pulling its expansion franchise from Denver until McMorris rode to the rescue.” McMorris personally paid $7M of the $95M expansion fee and organized “a group to save baseball in Denver.” Under McMorris’ stewardship, “the Rockies made MLB history, setting attendance records while playing their first two seasons” in ’93 and ’94. McMorris also operated as the Rockies’ CEO from the inaugural season until ’03. After a labor stoppage canceled the '94 World Series, McMorris "led negotiations from the owners’ side and helped bring baseball back” in ’95. He also “helped the Rockies move to newly built Coors Field” in ’95. McMorris “relinquished his role" as Rockies President to the late KELI MCGREGOR in ’01, but remained involved until Dec. ’05, when financial difficulties “forced him to sell controlling interest of the club” (DENVER POST, 5/9).