Colorado Rockies president Keli S. McGregor was remembered as a devoted father and husband and a one-of-a-kind chief executive during an emotional memorial service Sunday at Coors Field.
Several thousand people were in attendance on a windy, brisk day, filling the stands behind home plate, which was covered with a podium surrounded by purple flowers and greenery. Also on the podium were photos of McGregor, his wife, Lori, and their four children, and a large wooden cross.
The entire team, along with members of the organization, joined family and friends in the stands for the tribute to McGregor, 48, who passed away unexpectedly last week. He was found unconscious in a hotel room on Tuesday and later pronounced dead. Salt Lake City police have said there were no signs of foul play and the medical examiner's office has assumed the investigation of his death.
Speakers at the 90-minute service included former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, a close friend of McGregor, and his four children, all of whom wore Rockies jerseys with the No. 88, the number their father wore as a star tight end at Colorado State.
Hurdle, now the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers, recalled being at Fenway Park in Boston when he learned that McGregor had passed away.
"I walked outside, under the Green Monster, and I think I cried for 30 minutes, because I needed to," Hurdle said, his voice cracking. "Death will always be a gut check of the highest order. My heart aches for the loss of Keli here on Earth and yet I'm thankful for the time he was here. He was my mentor. He made a difference in my life."
Hurdle said the two had many great moments and conversations over the years and that he'll never forget his laugh.
"It was a full-throttle, belly laugh and he shared that with me often," Hurdle said.
McGregor was president of the Rockies for eight of his 17 years with the organization -- the team has been in existence 18 years. He helped build a team that has reached the postseason in two of the last three years, including its first trip to the World Series in 2007.
"He was instrumental in developing the Colorado Rockies brand," Hurdle said. "And trust me, there was a day when it was not cool to be a Rockie. But just look around you now."
Former Colorado State football coach Sonny Lubick said McGregor started his career at the school as a walk-on without his own locker. But, Lubick said, he went on to build a legacy as one of the school's greatest players.
Yet, Lubick said, it was his religious faith, and the closeness he shared with his wife and children that he remembers more than his athletic achievements, along with his willingness to always listen to others.
"He was the essence of fairness and compassion but his greatest gift was to listen to all, and that was a gift that he used wisely," Lubick said.
Greg Feasel, Colorado's vice president of business operations, said McGregor helped create a culture throughout the organization of doing things the right way, a credo he put above winning. He said his death has left a void in the organization and in the hearts of everyone associated with it.
Feasel said the team considered postponing its game at Washington when it learned of McGregor's passing.
"But then everybody said, 'Keli would say play the game and you play it the right way,' " Feasel said.
He then turned to McGregor's wife and children, seated in front of him, and made a promise.
"We will honor his memory and we will play the game, and we will play it the right way," Feasel said.