INDIAN WELLS — Walt Weiss was hired Wednesday night to replace Jim Tracy as manager of the Colorado Rockies and will make the rare jump from a high school dugout to the big leagues.
The team made the announcement after owner Dick Monfort and top officials deliberated at the general managers’ meetings — held at a hotel Monfort owns.
Weiss and Arizona coach Matt Williams were thought to be the favorites to replace Tracy, who quit Oct. 7 following a last-place finish in the NL West. Rockies bench coach Tom Runnells and first baseman Jason Giambi also interviewed, with Giambi saying he would retire as a player if he got the job.
The 1988 AL Rookie of the Year with Oakland, Weiss played shortstop for the Rockies from 1994-97 and was a special assistant to O’Dowd from 2002-08. He left to spend more time with his family and last season coached Regis Jesuit High School outside Denver, in Aurora, to a 20-6 record and the 5A semi-finals of the state championship. Weiss’ son Brody is in his senior year at the school.
The 48-year-old spent parts of 14 seasons in the major leagues, also playing for Oakland (1987-92), Florida (1993) and Atlanta (1998-2000). A .258 career hitter, he was an All-Star in the 1998 game at Denver’s Coors Field.
Monfort has been meeting with general manager Dan O’Dowd and senior vice president of major league operations Bill Geivett at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa.
Colorado had more familiarity with Weiss than with Williams.
“He would take trips in the minor leagues. He was always around with the major league club at home, as well,” Geivett said. “I know Walt pretty well.”
Williams, a five-time All-Star third baseman, has been Arizona’s third base coach the last two seasons after a year coaching first base. Before that, he was a Diamondbacks’ broadcaster for five years.
“I played against him in college when he was at UNLV,” Geivett said. “No real personal contact.”
The 2007 Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball referenced a report by the San Francisco Chronicle that said Williams bought $11,600 worth of growth hormone, steroids and other drugs in 2002. Williams said a doctor advised him to try growth hormone to heal an injured ankle. HGH was not banned by baseball at that time.
Weiss is just the sixth manager for the Rockies, following Don Baylor (1993-98), Jim Leyland (1999) Buddy Bell (2000-02), Clint Hurdle (2002-09) and Tracy (2009-12).