Diaz inducted into HOF for Pioneer League
Tony Diaz was back in uniform Friday night at Suplizio Field, back in the dugout.
And for good reason — the developmental supervisor for the Grand Junction Rockies was inducted into the Pioneer League Hall of Fame.
The league is celebrating its 75th anniversary, and as part of that, started a Hall of Fame this year. Pioneer League President Jim McCurdy was at the ballpark to honor Diaz.
Diaz and his mentor, former Casper Ghosts manager P.J. Carey, are part of the inaugural class.
“I want to thank P.J. Carey, who without him, there’s no way I would be standing here tonight,” Diaz said as he wrapped up his short induction speech. “P.J. was a great mentor, a father figure to me, and I’m double blessed to be going into the Hall of Fame right next to P.J. Tonight shouldn’t be my night, it should be P.J. Carey’s night.”
Carey, who spent 40 years in professional baseball as a player, coach and manager, died of cancer in December, 2012. After retiring from managing the Ghosts after the 2006 season, Carey was a minor league coordinator and senior advisor for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2009-2011.
Diaz became the Ghosts’ hitting coach in 2001 and succeeded Carey as manager for the 2007 season. He came to Grand Junction when the Colorado Rockies moved the Rookie affiliate to Grand Junction last season as the club’s first manager.
His young club reached the Pioneer League playoffs last summer, and this year, his first as the Rookie developmental supervisor, the Rockies won the first-half title in the South Division to clinch a playoff spot.
In his current position, Diaz usually watches the games from the stands or press box, but is on the field every day working with the players. In 2002, Diaz was the Rockies’ player development man of the year for the entire organization. He thanked the Rockies for giving him the opportunity to coach.
“I’ve enjoyed every step of the way,” he said. “I want to thank all of the players, former and current, because they represent my inspiration.
“To all of you, the fans across the league, the grounds keepers, front office personnel, all of you have embraced me, treated me really well and treated my loved ones really well.”