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Rockies team president Keli McGregor dead at 48

The Colorado Rockies will play tonight at Nationals Park following a tragedy at the highest level of their organization. Team President Keli S. McGregor, 48, was found dead this morning in his hotel room in Salt Lake City. McGregor had been traveling on a business trip with Rockies Chairman Charlie Monfort and Executive Vice President Greg Feasel.

No further details about McGregor's death are currently available, according to an official statement from the club.

"Words cannot describe the level of shock and disbelief that we all are feeling this morning at the loss of Keli," Monfort said in a release. "Our thoughts, our prayers are with [McGregor's wife] Lori and the entire family as we all try to cope and understand how such a tragic loss could occur with such a wonderful man."

McGregor, a former NFL tight end with the Broncos, Seahawkas and Colts, joined the Rockies in 1993 and has been with the team since its inception as an MLB expansion team. He became team president in 2001.

"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am very saddened by the sudden and unexpected passing of Keli McGregor," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Keli was one of our game's rising young stars. He was a great athlete and equally great as a baseball administrator. Also, he was a great human being. All of baseball will miss him."

Postponing tonight's game was "not really something that was considered," Nationals President Stan Kasten said. Nationals outfielder Willy Taveras, a former Rockie, said "I'm surprised there is a baseball game going on." The Rockies did not want to sit out tonight.

"I know him," Rockies Manager Jim Tracy said. "And that is not what he would want."

The Nationals will hold a moment of silence for McGregor before the game. In the dugout, the Rockies will hang a No. 88 gray Rockies jersey. McGregor wore 88 when he played football. Shocked and sullen, the Rockies will carry on.

"I can't tell you how saddened I am by the news that I got this morning," said Tracy, his eyes red and his voice cracking. "We've lost somebody in this organization that is going to be greatly missed. In the short time that I've worn this shirt, he embraces everything and has been in the forefront of everything that Colorado Rockies are about and that they represent."

Taveras called Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe this morning and asked what happened. They were both stunned. McGregor was in impeccable shape. When Taveras played for the Rockies, he said he would arrive early in the morning in the gym and find McGregor there, already working out.

"I don't understand what's happenend," Tracy said. "I told so many in that clubhouse, I want to understand this and I don't. I don't know what to say."

Tracy spoke to reporters for four minutes, and as the crowd dispersed, he smacked base of the bench with a fungo bat and bit his lower lip. Two Rockies employees sat on each side of him and threw their arms around him, trying to comfort Tracy hours before he had to manage a game.

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 20, 2010; 3:15 PM ET
 
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Comments

They said he died of "natural causes". I'm sorry, 48 year old men don't die of natural causes (I know, that's just parlance for "no foul play"). I hope they will acknowledge this tonight at the game.

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | April 20, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Anything from a heart attack caused by a blood clot that may have developed in the legs to a brain based aneurysm could be considered a natural cause? Even happens to guys who are in "good shape" physically.

Posted by: periculum | April 20, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

LurkerNowPoster- so if he had a heart attack are you saying we register it as a suicide? Natural causes means it wasnt 'foul play' as you say, or some injury or the like.

Posted by: Comunista | April 20, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

My interpretation of "natural causes" would also be not by his own hand or by that of another, and not in a sudden accident. As peric notes, there are "natural cause" possibilities with a younger person (heart attack, aneurysm, and so forth). Yes, I would think that the team would acknowledge his passing somehow at the game.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 20, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

at age 48, you are a perfect candidate for death by natural causes as periculum states. I feel for his family and what i consider to be one of the classier organisations in baseball.

That being said, let get them while they are down and sweep the rockies.

Posted by: NatsandSkinsareclassclassclass | April 20, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Some of the commenters on here watch too much TV. "Foul play"?? WTF. ARe you kidding me? That's a holdover dramatic expression from 1970's TV that.

He probably died of a heart attack or stroke. Happens to the best of 'em.

Posted by: dc1020008 | April 20, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Agree with those who know that natural causes can certainly get you unawares before you're 50, it happens often enough, even in this society where most of us live in sanitary conditions and aren't starving. (It happened to a cousin of mine at 49 -- boom, just like that, heart attack with no previous history, although he had been a smoker.) But I bet the intimation to the contrary wasn't a reference to "foul play", but to drug use. (Yeah, I suppose cigs qualify too.) Guess we'll find out soon enough. What is it with mainstays of the visiting team dropping dead when they play the Nats?

Posted by: evanescent_panoply | April 21, 2010 2:20 AM | Report abuse

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