McMorris will maintain stake in team

Updated: November 10, 2004, 9:03 AM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies have formally parted ways with vice chairman Jerry McMorris, announcing that he has been dropped from the team's board of directors and is no longer an officer, ending a 12-year relationship with one of the Rockies' founding figures.

McMorris was relieved his duties during a Sept. 29 meeting of directors and shareholders, though the move was announced only on Tuesday. McMorris will keep his stake in the club.

McMorris told The Associated Press his ouster was pushed by Charlie and Dick Monfort -- the two brothers with whom he acquired a controlling interest in the team in 1992, before their first season.

"I don't know of any reason for their actions," McMorris said. "I certainly gave my best effort for the Rockies and Major League Baseball, and I don't know what is on the Monforts' minds. I've never been given an explanation."

Charlie Monfort, the team chairman and CEO, did not return a call seeking comment.

McMorris became chairman and chief executive officer of the Rockies in 1993, when the Denver area was awash in excitement over the arrival of its major league team. Since then, he has faded into the background, with Keli McGregor taking over as president in 2001 and Charlie Monfort assuming the managing general partner role last year.

McMorris also been through some financial difficulties. His trucking company, Denver-based NationsWay Transport Inc., filed for bankruptcy in 1999. The Colorado State Supreme Court ruled last year that he and seven other officers were not liable for $12 million in unpaid wages.

McMorris' stake in the Rockies dropped from 14.5 percent to 12.4 last July, when regional television network Fox Sports bought 14 percent of the team. He will keep that stake, as well as his 42.5 percent ownership of the general partnership.

Faced with unwieldy contracts and declining attendance, the ownership group has had cash calls the past two seasons. The Rockies expect to have a payroll of close to $70 million for next season, but roughly $53 million of that is tied up in five players, including two who are no longer with the team.

Colorado, which has been to the playoffs once, went 68-94 last season, the second-worst record in team history and sixth losing season in seven years.

McMorris has served on Major League Baseball's Executive Council, chairing its legislative committee and sitting on its finance and compensation committee. He also had an advisory role in negotiations for the collective bargaining agreement that took effect before the 2003 season.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press