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Former Casper Rockies manager PJ Carey, left, talks with the homeplate umpire during a 2006 game. Carey, who coached Casper’s minor-league team for six seasons, died Friday at the age of 59.

Former Casper Rockies manager PJ Carey, who coached the city’s former minor-league baseball team in its inaugural season in 2001, died Friday at age of 59 after a long illness, a report on said.

Carey led the Rockies to a playoff season in their first season and returned to the team in 2003 after stints elsewhere in the Colorado Rockies’ organization before leaving for a player development position with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007.

“It was a very, very difficult decision for me to make, leaving the Rocky organization after 14 years,” Carey told the Star-Tribune after leaving his post as the team’s manager in 2006. “I’m very fond of the Casper community, all the people in the Casper area. It’s a wonderful town to develop ballplayers because of the community support.”

A Scranton, Pa., native, Carey played with the Philadelphia Phillies for four seasons starting in 1972 before heading into coaching.

Carey earned Arizona Rookie League manager of the year honors in 1998 and 2000 and was also named South Atlantic League manager of the year in 1996. In 1997, he served as the Colorado Rockies bench coach.

“Our entire organization grieves at the death of P.J. Carey. We were deeply saddened to learn of P.J.’s passing on Friday evening,” the Colorado Rockies organization said in a statement. “He was a great husband, son, brother and friend to so many throughout our organization and the baseball community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Katherine, family, and to all of those whose lives were touched by P.J. over his life and 40-year career in professional baseball.”

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