GJ Rockies’ Ray retiring as team’s GM
Tim Ray hasn’t lost the passion he has for minor league baseball, particularly the Grand Junction Rockies.
The energy it takes to be the general manager of a Rookie League ballclub, though, is starting to wane. In May, Ray knew the fifth season of the GJ Rockies would be his last.
The Rockies announced Tuesday that effective Oct. 9, Ray is retiring as the general manager of the GJ Rockies, but will stay involved as a community ambassador.
“Now is the time,” Ray, 60, said Tuesday afternoon in his office at Suplizio Field, the walls starting to become bare as he packs up his trinkets.
The photos, mini helmets and bobbleheads will be added to his memorabilia room at the home he and his wife, Karen, bought in January. The two plan to remain in Grand Junction in retirement.
“They need to take it to that next level ... these guys are full of energy and passion and that’s what you need. I’m just simply running out of energy. There’s nothing wrong with that,” Ray said. “Some (people) never want to admit that or have a tough time coming to terms with that. I didn’t.”
Ray said he talked with the GJ Rockies’ owners in May and was confident they would work out something to keep him involved, just not fulltime.
“The Grand Junction Rockies are proud of all that Tim Ray accomplished as the General Manager of the franchise,” Dick Monfort, the managing partner of both the GJ and Colorado Rockies said in a release.
“Although he is retiring from his position of General Manager, we are thrilled that Tim has agreed to serve as a Community Ambassador for the Grand Junction Rockies. We look forward to working with Tim for many years to come.”
In July, Ray took over as the Rockies’ public address announcer when Ryan Bigley left for a job on the Front Range, and will continue that next season. He’ll also run the host family program and do speaking engagements in the community. And, he joked, he’s pretty good at making popcorn.
Beyond that, Ray will work with Community Hospital, expanding his role as a member of the foundation board as a recruiter.
“I just can’t turn it off, I’m always going to be doing something,” he said. “It’s all about building relationships and people, and that’s what I enjoy, but it also affords me the flexibility to keep my hand in (baseball), but not here day to day. I can’t completely shut it down.”
He has a few other projects in mind, but for now, he and Karen are planning a trip back to Casper, Wyoming, to see family, and he’ll get back to playing golf and doing some fishing, both of which were put on hold five years ago.
“I came to town with a cellphone,” he said of being the point man for the club’s move from Casper. “I’m in a moving truck. I’m meeting some guy by the name of Eddie Mort (the former stadium supervisor) out here in the parking lot and he and his grounds crew helped me unload the truck and put (equipment) in one of those storage units out there.
“I got a motel room and got a text the next morning, ‘You need to go see a guy by the name of Norm Franke at Alpine Bank because he’s got an office space for you.’ ‘’
The Rockies’ offices at the stadium were still under construction at the time. That wasn’t all that was being built.
“We didn’t have colors, we didn’t have a logo,” Ray recalled. “We knew we were the Grand Junction Rockies, but nothing else.”
As the offices took shape, so did his vision for the franchise.
“I take great pride in that and it’s something I will always take pride in,” he said of building a franchise from Day 1. “We did the transfer, got the team here and got it going with great help from a lot of people. ... Everybody gravitated (to) and absorbed this franchise. It wasn’t me by myself, a lot of people helped.”
In his five years, the Rockies reached the playoffs twice and received three major awards. In 2012, Ray was the Pioneer Baseball League Executive of the Year, and in 2013 received the inaugural John Henry Moss Community Service Award by Minor League Baseball.
In 2015, the GJ Rockies were voted the top short-season franchise in baseball, receiving the Bob Freitas Award.
Team President Joe Kubly, who came on board last winter, said Tuesday no decisions have been made on replacing Ray.
“I take great pride in that I’m just one of many people who helped bring this organization here and got it rolling,” Ray said. “Now it really is time to pass the torch and let those young guys go with it. They’ll do a great job.”