Rockies mourning loss of club president

4/23/2010 - MLB Colorado Rockies

DENVER -- The Rockies made a somber return to the ballpark on a rainy Friday for their first home game since team president Keli McGregor died suddenly during a business trip to Salt Lake City.

The weather forced postponement of their game against the Florida Marlins, which was rescheduled as part of a doubleheader Saturday.

Manager Jim Tracy, addressing reporters before the game was called off, wore jeans and the purple fleece McGregor gave to him during spring training rather than his uniform. He said he was struck by the irony of returning home from a weeklong trip with the team at 8-8 overall and then seeing McGregor's Colorado State football jersey, No. 88, hanging in the dugout.

"I think we realize that we have to continue, because that's what he would want us to do," Tracy said. "But I'm not going to sidestep the fact that these next few days here, it's not going to be easy. There's nothing about them that's going to be easy.

"We haven't just lost a good person. We've lost a giant," Tracy said.

McGregor, 48, was with the Rockies' organization for 17 years, becoming team president in 2001. A star tight end in college who also played briefly in the NFL, McGregor helped build a Rockies team that has gone to the postseason twice in the past three years, including its first trip to the World Series in 2007.

He was found unconscious in a hotel room Tuesday and later pronounced dead. Salt Lake City police have said there were no signs of foul play, and the medical examiner's office will determine cause and time of death.

A morning memorial service for McGregor is scheduled for Sunday at Coors Field. The starting time of the team's game with the Marlins that day has been pushed back two hours to 3:05 p.m.

Tracy reflected on an emotional week for the team that included the throwing of a no-hitter by Ubaldo Jimenez in Atlanta -- the first no-hitter in the Rockies' 18-year history -- and the devastating news of McGregor's death Tuesday as the team prepared for a game at Washington, which it won.

"Think about the different ends of the spectrum we've been on," he said, shaking his head.

McGregor was close with many of the players and coaches, and the team's general manager, Dan O'Dowd, spoke to the squad in the clubhouse about his death.

"I think it was improtant for us and I think it was important for him," Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook said. "It's a tough time. Nobody knows what to stay or what to do when tragedy like this happens, but he came down and stood in front of us and kept his emotions together and just kind of shared with us.

"What he said was for us. It's in house. It's still really close to the tragedy happening, but I think that something like this starts to go a long way in the healing process, being able to talk and share stories."