Eric Garcia McKinley announced that he would be stepping down as manager of Purple Row on Wednesday. As a going-away present, Purple Row staff and old friends decided to take over the site and make this post without his knowledge. But we all hope it will be a welcome surprise! We couldn’t let Eric go without acknowledging the assistance he has given us throughout the years and his dedication to continuing to make Purple Row a force in the Rockies’ community.
★ ★ ★
I am in constant amazement over the professionalism Eric has handled all Purple Row responsibilities, always giving feedback of the utmost respect, and most importantly, maintaining such genuine sincerity that deserves high praise. My time with Eric was admittedly brief compared to others at Purple Row, but as a writer fresh out of college in my first ever writing position, Eric fostered my development at a pace I could have only dreamed of. My experience in this profession has been furthered better than I had ever anticipated my first experience of this nature would go, and it is widely a testament to Eric’s sincerity, passion, and his insistence in keeping this community a positive one. Many try to replicate those qualities, but few truly attain it: Eric embodies it.
He has created an environment at Purple Row for writers and readers alike to call home, and I will be forever fortunate to have my writing career begin under his expertise. I give Eric my highest regard; he has truly made an impact.
—Justin Wick, Purple Row staff writer
★ ★ ★
Eric, thank you! While I haven’t been a part of Purple Row for very long, I’m thankful that you gave me a chance to write about the Rockies. It was a dream of mine that others called silly that you helped make a reality. In addition to helping me pursue this dream, I’ve enjoyed reading your writing and perspective over the past few years. You’ll be missed!
—Becca Guillen, Purple Row staff writer
★ ★ ★
Eric’s professionalism and overall presence have made a huge impact on me in the short time I’ve worked with him. I’m a bit shy and more than a bit quirky, but he was totally accepting and supportive of that from the start. He gave me the freedom to be myself, but I always knew I could go to him if I had questions, and I trusted he would come to me with any concerns or problems. That might sound sort of basic, but having someone I respect say, “Yeah, it’s cool that you’re a weirdo. Just do your thing, and I have your back,” and actually mean it, is a very big deal to me. It’s not easy to cultivate that kind of presence when managing a remote team, but he did it so well.
So, Eric, thank you for existing, and I’m so glad I got the chance to work with you over the last few months.
—AJ Hendrickson, Purple Row staff writer
★ ★ ★
Even though I live in Denver now, I was an out-of-town Rockies fan for several years before that. That’s when I first discovered Purple Row and noticed Eric’s work. It helped me follow the team and I have loved the site ever since. Years later when I got the chance to contribute, it was an honor. The site, thanks to Eric’s dedication and love for the Rockies, is awesome. He’s been great to work for, even though I’ve only been here a short time. He’s very generous, kind, and ridiculously knowledgeable about the Rockies. I wish him the best moving forward and hope the Rockies give him a good season as he transitions back into just being a fan again.
—Joelle Milholm, Purple Row staff writer
★ ★ ★
In “The Art of Fielding,” Chad Harbach writes, “Schwartz knew that people loved to suffer, as long as the suffering made sense. Everybody suffered. The key was to choose the form of your suffering. Most people couldn’t do this alone; they needed a coach. A good coach made you suffer in a way that suited you. A bad coach made everyone suffer in the same way, and so was more like a torturer.”
Eric Garcia McKinley has been an excellent coach for Purple Row as we have celebrated and suffered through Rockies baseball together.
Eric has been committed to creating a welcoming community of folks who love the Rockies — and love disagreeing about them. Communities, like families, tend to be messy, and managing them can be challenging. Yet Eric has done it seamlessly.
I have been writing at Purple Row for just over two years now. I am grateful to Eric for hiring a writer who had never written about baseball before. I am grateful that he thought I might be suited to live-tweet baseball games. I am grateful that he encouraged me to write pieces that other publications might not have accepted. I am grateful for the diverse writers he has brought together — I constantly learn from all of them. And I am grateful that he was willing to edit fearlessly an English teacher. (This is a rarer quality than you might think). Everything I have written here is better because of Eric’s attention.
As a college teacher, I tend to be philosophical about these kinds of changes. My time as a student, a teacher, and a colleague has taught me that folks tend to end up where they need to be doing what they need to be doing. That doesn’t make their leaving for those places any easier, but I see these moments as opportunities for everyone to see what’s next and what’s possible.
Thank you, Eric, for all you have done and for being the very best kind of coach.
—Renee Dechert, Purple Row staff writer
★ ★ ★
Eric and I first worked together on posts five years ago about what the Rockies should do with the likes of Michael Cuddyer and Kyle Parker. At the first annual Midwest Rockies Bloggers Summit, where we were the only two attendees, we talked about why the Rockies shouldn’t trade Troy Tulowitzki. In the past couple years at Purple Row, Eric got to edit and give me feedback on all the different ways I could say that relievers are random. Through all of these Rockies chats and as we became friends, Eric has always been the same thoughtful and kind person that you all have come to know in his writing and in the comments section.
The genuine support Eric has provided to the entire Purple Row staff is something that is truly rare in the breakneck world of internet writing. He always prioritized mentoring and providing real feedback. That is reflected in the quality of the work on this site while he was site manager, and I have no doubt it will continue to be so because of the foundation he is leaving for the next person.
—Hayden Kane, Purple Row editor
★ ★ ★
When I applied to write at Purple Row around two years ago, I didn’t expect I would land the gig. Thus, I was surprised to get an email from Eric offering me the staff writer position. So, I suppose I should start by thanking Eric for taking a chance on me. But, of course, it didn’t stop there.
Eric went the extra mile to show he truly wanted to make everything about the site a quality experience for the reader. He would give us staff members a call at the beginning of the year to ensure we were getting what we wanted out of the site and to see if we had any suggestions of our own. One thing he asked me at the beginning of 2019 was how Purple Row could be working to help me with what I wanted to do for my career. I’m currently a college student with play-by-play baseball as a career goal and while that wasn’t quite the scope of what could be achieved from this site, I thought a podcast would be an opportunity to get my voice out there. There are plenty of podcasts out there—and plenty of good Rockies podcasts, at that. Eric made clear that if we were going to do a podcast, we needed to do it right. And we needed something to make ourselves stand out from the others. While it’s up to the listeners to decide if we achieved our goal of offering something unique, I think of what would have happened if we just dove into the project without stopping to think about Eric’s suggestions.
I think about the articles I would have wrote that I may be regretting putting on the site today if Eric hadn’t told me it may be best to go in a different direction. I think about how I thought I had failed when I would see Eric’s mark-ups on my stories, not knowing at the time that he was making me a better writer. And I can’t thank him enough for offering me the chance to join the ranks of the site’s editors last month. I remember perusing SB Nation sites when I was in high school and thinking I could never be writing for a site like them. And thanks to Eric, I had the opportunity not just to get my name on my masthead, but to be a better writer and a better collaborator.
Eric always made himself available to answer whatever questions I had and to make time to address an issue whenever I was feeling uncomfortable. Whatever Eric does next is going to be great and I hope there are other people out there like me (hello, fellow imposter syndrome friends) who get the privilege of working alongside him—someone who truly cares about their contributions.
—Ben Kouchnerkavich, Purple Row editor
★ ★ ★
First and foremost, I want to say thank you for taking a chance on me two years ago. I wouldn’t be exaggerating in the slightest when I say that Purple Row changed my life and I would not be the woman I am today without it. I was in a horribly dark place in my life before I started writing here—new city, new job (first job out of college), bad break-up, etc.—and writing for Purple Row really helped break me out of my funk and gave me joy again. Teaching elementary band was fine but writing for baseball while teaching band made everything fun! So, thank you for making my life fun.
I’d always liked baseball growing up, but the opportunities that Purple Row has given me over the last two years has given me a new perspective and a new respect for the game and all the people involved. I’ll be honest—I didn’t really know about Purple Row before I saw that call for writers and applied. I think I only liked the site on Facebook like two weeks prior. But nonetheless, I decided to take a chance and apply and I’m so happy that you saw something in me. Over the last two years, you have helped me grow and develop as a writer as well as gain a deeper understanding of baseball in all aspects and I am forever grateful for your guidance.
Never in a million years did I think I would ever be in a major league clubhouse talking to and getting to know the players and writers that I’ve admired from afar for so many years. The experiences that I’ve had and the friends that I’ve made over the last two years, both on the site and in the clubhouse, are some that I will cherish forever.
Never in a million years did I think I would be part of two outstanding podcasts, talking about baseball and making new friends along the way. I’ll especially miss recording the PebblePod—sorry...Pebble Report Podcast—with you every week. That was so much fun and we’ll have to have you back as a guest sometime!
Never in a million years did I think I would be covering minor league baseball. I especially never thought I would love it so much that I would drive six hours to Albuquerque to cover the Isotopes and then make a point of going to Coors Field to talk to some of the players I got to know there when they got called up. Those were some really fun moments.
So, long story short, from the very bottom of my heart, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for being a fantastic editor, colleague, and friend. You have opened so many doors for me and helped me find true joy in my life for the first time in a long time and I mean it when I say that I am forever grateful for everything you’ve done. Good luck in all of your future endeavors—you will be sorely missed.
—Sam Bradfield, Purple Row editor
★ ★ ★
Eric and I started writing about the Rockies around the same time—he because he needed an outlet during his dissertation, me because just watching baseball wasn’t enough. I came on staff with Rockies Zingers while he was there, then he left for Purple Row and I followed about a year later. Eric’s always been about one step ahead of me, which is appropriate because just reading his writing has made me want to be a better writer. As assistant to the managing editor, his focus on doing what is best for our stable of writers and what’s best for the site has forced me to strive to be better on those fronts as well.
Eric’s time running things here at Purple Row may have been only two years, but he presided over some challenges and changes, bringing on a good portion of our current staff and overseeing the launch of a couple podcasts. For him it’s always been about putting the right people in the right place to succeed and helping them, and the site, get better in whatever way possible. In other words, he’s leaving the exact right kind of legacy: new initiatives and great people who will outlast his own tenure.
That doesn’t mean he won’t be missed; his voice and contributions have become part of what makes Purple Row a great site and community. But as he goes in his other endeavors, he can rest assured he made a positive, lasting impact.
—Adam Peterson, Assistant to the Managing Editor, Purple Row
★ ★ ★
I’ve known Eric since we worked together as writing tutors in college. We closed down some bars, played a bunch of WoW, and watched a lot of Rockies games during those years. We were there, together, for the World Series run in 2007, the first year I got serious about my baseball fandom. And he was the one who gave me my first opportunity to be a published writer, years later, when he put in a good word for me with the previous site manager.
Eric is one of the most real people you will ever meet. He’s frank and sharp without being judgmental or pretentious. This is a highly intelligent, highly educated person who still listens to heavy metal and loves roleplaying games. He is just as eager to talk epic fantasy as German philosophy. In fact, he probably hates that we’re all heaping this kind of praise on him right now.
But those are exactly the type of people who deserve it.
It was a stroke of great fortune that I had the chance to work with him at two very different times in my life, and I will continue to be influenced by conversations (and raids) I shared with Eric through the years.
Thank you so much for the effort you put into Rockies fandom, Dr. McKinley. In your future endeavors, whoever you rub shoulders with will be just as privileged as all of your readers and colleagues have been the last six years.
—Nick Hertzog, Purple Row staff writer
★ ★ ★
I thought he
Could write for the Row forever
Given that he did write a lot of stats stuff
And recap stuff and funny stuff but I
Realized I repeated stuff too much and he helped me with that
Count the words
Indent the paragraphs
Always able to enable the best of us
Maybe, just once in a blood moon
Coloring the sunset with an autumn hue
Kicking back, Eric would get to relax
In Denver, at Coors Field
Nestled in the Purple seats
Like the last gasp of fall
Enjoying the view
Yet hoping the bullpen, this time, wouldn’t really suck at all.
As always, to Eric, all the best.
—Richard Bergstrom, former Purple Row writer
★ ★ ★
I want to definitely extend my thanks to Eric for always going along with my crazy thoughts and letting me expand my voice. He let me do basically whatever I wanted, and I appreciated that. They weren’t all good ideas and there were some bad posts, but he let me learn that on my own. A great editor and I’ll miss seeing his steadying voice in the community
—Connor Farrell, former Purple Row writer
★ ★ ★
Purple Row is a special place. For well over a decade now, it’s remained the best publicly open internet community for all things Rockies. That standard starts at the top, and for the last two years, Eric has continued the tradition of wonderful leadership. Like Bryan, Jeff, Andrew, Russ and Rox Girl before him, I’m sure this required countless hours of behind the scenes work to ensure the site remained operating at peak content efficiency. It’s this level of passion and dedication that separates the Row and its leaders from other sources of Rockies content.
For anyone who’s ever made Purple Row part of their daily routine; for anybody who’s ever had their Rockies passion burn brighter after consuming a Rockpile; and for anyone who’s ever truly loved this place, let’s all take a moment to thank Eric for his contribution to this spectacular little slice of the internet.
—Matt Gross, former Purple Row writer
★ ★ ★
Eric, your knowledge of baseball brought another layer of credibility to Purple Row exactly when we needed it; your knowledge of writing did that and so much more. I just want to say thank you for always keeping me on my toes, lending a helping hand and a supportive ear, and successfully carrying the Purple Row torch after I left. And thanks again for adding professionalism to our Slack room. That place was wild! Best of luck, Eric, even though I know you don’t really need it.
—Bryan Kilpatrick, manager at Rocky Mountain Baseball and former Purple Row manager
★ ★ ★
I’ll always remember how quickly Eric became an indispensable member of the Purple Row community and staff. It felt like somehow the two entities needed each other right at that moment. It was a perfect fit.
I have many fond memories working together to take a raw idea and turn it into a decent article, then take that article and try to turn it into something great and memorable. I’m still proud of what we worked on back then and employ many of the lessons I learned during that time to this day.
Eric is one of the smartest baseball people I’ve ever had the privilege to know and discuss the game with.
Thanks for everything you taught me, man. I’ll always be cheering you on from the bleachers.
—Drew Creasman, DNVR Rockies editor/beat writer and former Purple Row writer
★ ★ ★
Thank you so much for your strong leadership and steady hand steering the Purple Row ship! Taking over after BK left meant there were some pretty big shoes to fill (literally!) and you’ve done a great job taking Purple Row to the next level. It’s quite a challenge managing an ever-changing staff who you almost never meet face to face, but you should be proud of all you’ve accomplished here. It’s funny that our love of the Rockies is one of the few things we have in common but that’s been a great basis to forge a friendship. I especially appreciated working with you on the Opening Day breakfasts. It’s been fun to see that event grow into a really special way for Rockies fans to kick off the season. Good luck to you and I hope to still see you around 20th & Blake or lurking in the PR Slack chat room now and then!
—Tim Boettcher, Purple Row social media coordinator
★ ★ ★
—Russ Oates, Senior Programming Analyst, SB Nation (and former Purple Row manager)
★ ★ ★
From all of us at Purple Row (past and present), thank you for everything, Eric. And best of luck to you.