GJ Rockies win MiLB’s community service award

Tim Ray usually skips the banquet at the end of baseball’s winter meetings.

This year, though, the Grand Junction Rockies’ general manager will have to stick around to accept the inaugural John Henry Moss Community Service Award.

“This is awesome,” Ray said Thursday after learning the Rockies won the award from Minor League Baseball. “I give all the credit to our ownership. They allow us to do it. It’s just neat that the ownership is willing to allow us to really get involved.”

The award, named for the founder and longtime president of the South Atlantic League, honors one minor league for its involvement in the community.

In the two years the GJ Rockies have been in town, the club has committed to buying varsity uniforms for the District 51 varsity baseball and softball teams, and it donates $25,000 each year to the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, which helps pay for the Lincoln Park Tower project.

The Rockies and Colorado Mesa University have a partnership, employing a half-dozen interns from the sports management program each summer, plus another dozen from the mass communications department who work to stream the team’s home games.

Ray is a member of the Community Hospital Foundation Board and is a member of the JUCO Committee, with other staff members joining local civic organizations.

In January, the Rockies conduct an indoor baseball camp, with coaches and players from the Colorado and Grand Junction Rockies serving as instructors. Proceeds from the camp benefit CMU’s baseball scholarship program.

The Rockies donated to several charities and nonprofit groups in 2013, including Special Olympics Colorado, the Riverside Education Center, Ed Randall’s Fans for the Cure, the A.C. Foundation, Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, the Grand Junction Audubon Society and the Mesa County Firefighters.

“This is the baseball capital of Colorado,” Ray said. “We just simply want to be a part of the family.”

Ray said the award has him ready to make the GJ Rockies even better.

“Any time you win a national award, it’s awesome. To have something like this in our second year of existence shows we’re at least on the right track,” Ray said.

“There are a lot of things I’m excited about that we’ve been talking with some of our partners out there, and within time, at the end of the day the winner is going to be the fans. Nothing’s going to happen overnight but all of us working together as one, it’s going to create some neat things down the road. That’s exciting to me.”

Tapia honored: GJ Rockies center fielder Raimel Tapia was selected the Minor League Baseball Topps Pioneer League Player of the Year.

Tapia, who led the league in hitting (.357) and had seven home runs and 47 RBI, went on a club-record 29-game hitting streak in July and August, only three shy of the league record.

It’s the second straight year a GJ Rockies player has won the Topps award, following center fielder David Dahl in 2012. Dahl, who missed nearly the entire 2013 season with a torn hamstring, is healthy again and is listed as the Rockies’ No. 2 prospect, between pitchers Jon Gray and Eddie Butler.


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