The Colorado Rockies organization has enjoyed success on and off the field in recent years, with the Rockies earning playoff berths two of the past four years -- including their first World Series appearance in 2007 -- and finishing among the Top 10 in Major League Baseball attendance this past season.
Now the Rockies are hoping to transfer some of that success to the Casper Ghosts, a Pioneer League affiliate of the Rockies. The Monfort Investment Group, which is headed by Rockies general partners Dick and Charlie Monfort, finalized its purchase of the Ghosts on Friday.
"This is a partnership," Rockies Director of Player Development Marc Gustafson said at a news conference. "We're going to spend a lot of time and energy making [the Ghosts organization] the best product we can."
Along those lines, the Ghosts named longtime announcer and former play-by-play man Tim Ray as the team's new executive director.
Ray, who currently is employed as the Activities/Athletics Manager for the Natrona County School District, will assume his new role with the Ghosts immediately as well as continuing to work with the NCSD until his position is filled.
"I'm going to be putting in quite a few hours," Ray said. "The clock is running with baseball because this is the time when you knock down doors and get out there and sell.
"But it's also a critical time for the school district because we have four state tournaments staring us in the face."
Ray, who was the Ghosts' play-by-play announcer during their initial season as the Casper Rockies, said his lifelong passion for baseball combined with what he has learned during his four-year stint with the NCSD helped him make the decision to take the full-time job with the Ghosts.
"In the last four years I've developed a solid work ethic with athletic administrations," Ray said. "I've coordinated on five state tournaments, I've worked with a volunteer base of more than 300 people, and I've worked with a school district budget. So when this opportunity came up it made sense.
"It's a perfect fit and the timing is fantastic."
With his new job, Ray will be in charge of an organization that has enjoyed moderate success in the stands and a team whose lone postseason appearance came in 2001. However, sales of Ghosts' apparel has ranked at or near the top for all minor league franchises the past two years and home ballpark Mike Lansing Field was named by USA Today as one of the "Top 10 Places to Make a Baseball Pilgrimage" this past April.
Obviously, the new ownership group would like to improve the product on the field while maintaining the Ghosts' off-the-field success.
"What's going to stay consistent is the fan-friendly environment," Gustafson said. "And it might be enhanced a little bit.
"I'm excited. I kind of don't want to give all the answers because I want the fans to be surprised. There are a lot of good things to come.
"As far as the team itself, our focus is on scouting and player development. Certainly we're going to sign the best players we can so that we have a good team [in Casper]."
And with the Ghosts now having the full backing of the parent club, fifth-year manager Tony Diaz expects to see improvement on the field.
"As part of the Rockies organization I think we just got better," Diaz said. "Any time you add quality people with passion for the game you're going to be better off.
"It's encouraging to see that type of commitment ... it's exciting."
Contact sports reporter Jack Nowlin at (307) 266-0528 or firstname.lastname@example.org.