SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — His office inside the Rockies’ Salt River Fields complex is as immaculate and orderly as a Marine Corps honor guard.
Calendars, schedules, memos and to-do lists are perfectly aligned on a bulletin board. A silver paperweight, in the shape of a baseball, sits on the polished desk. A large photograph, showing a champagne-drenched Todd Helton celebrating the Rockies’ 2007 National League pennant, takes up one wall.
It is from here, and from his similarly spic-and-span office at Coors Field, that Paul Egins runs the whole show: organizing road trips, handling players’ ticket requests, validating meal money, booking rental cars and booking flights for players’ wives. In short, he takes care of the myriad of logistics for a major-league team. His official title is senior director of major league operations, but in longtime baseball lingo, he’s the club’s traveling secretary.
“He is our beacon in the dark,” starting pitcher Jon Gray said. “Anything you need to know, he’s on top of it. You want to know something about a city? He knows. Need tickets? He’ll get them. He’s always on top of his game.”
Except for that time when Egins left a bag filled with $40,000 cash on the airport tarmac, but we’ll get to that later.
Egins, 56, is an original Rockie. He joined the club on Oct. 30, 1991, when the expansion franchise was still in its infant stages and 18 months from its official first pitch. The only staff member with longer tenure is Alan Bossart, now the visiting clubhouse manager. Bossart joined the Rockies about three months before Egins.
Egins has worn a variety of Rockies caps through the years, including a stint as director of player development from 1997-99. Former Rockies manager Jim Tracy used to call Egins into his office to discuss the daily ins and outs of the team. He still lends his input to the front office about player performance and scouting when he gets the chance.
“This franchise means the world to me,” Egins said.
Almost everybody calls him “Egs” (pronounced EEgs), except for owner Dick Monfort, who calls him “Brother Paul.”
“And he calls me ‘Brother Dick,’ that’s how tight we are,” Monfort said. “He’s essential to this organization. Everybody has so many needs and he’s always being asked for this, that and the other — on a daily basis. For a guy not to go ballistic about all of that is amazing to me.
“He does so much for everybody, I feel guilty ever asking him for anything. But his demeanor is amazing. Brother Paul is the best.”
Egins, a proud graduate of the University of Georgia — he gets uncharacteristically tense and distracted when the Bulldogs football team is on TV — has a personality that belies his button-down office. Egs is a hugger, and his warm, rumbling laugh fills the hallways at Salt River Field.
“Sure, he’s very organized and he’s very particular about how he likes things done, but he’s good at his job because he’s very much a people person,” said clubhouse manager Mike “Tiny” Pontarelli, who works in concert with Egins. “To be likable, throughout all of baseball, throughout the entire country, with all different walks of life, is amazing. Everybody adores his personality. He just lights up the room whenever he walks into it. He’s a cornerstone to this franchise.”
Manager Bud Black agrees. “He’s such a positive influence, with such a huge personality. He’s like everybody’s favorite uncle. He just makes us better.”
Pontarelli and Egins call each other “Road Dog,” referring to the old days when the Rockies spring training home was in Tucson and they endured three- and four-hour bus rides up I-10 to reach Surprise for Cactus League games.
“When you travel throughout the years, all over the country with somebody, they become more than just co-workers, they become family,” Pontarelli said.
Egins is the king of the Rockies’ team plane, where he plays cards with head trainer Keith Dugger, fitness coordinator Gabe Bauer and general manager Jeff Bridich, or one of the other assistant GMs who might be on that particular trip.
“He’s intense about cards, just like he is about Georgia football,” Pontarelli said. “And he usually ends up with all of the chips in front of him.”
Egins credits his mom, Jacquelyn, for his organizational skills. He credits Hall of Famer Hank Aaron for his commitment to his job.
“You know, if you saw my house, you wouldn’t think it was nearly as tidy as this office,” Egins said with a laugh. “But keeping things orderly and having everything in place is important to my job. Doing my job well to the best of my ability is one of the things I learned from Hank.”
Prior to joining the Rockies, Egins worked for the Atlanta Braves from 1988-91, finishing his time there as assistant to the director of player development and scouting. That’s when he formed a lifelong bond with Aaron, whom Egins calls “one of the classiest men I’ve ever known.”
If Egins sweats out the details of his job, he rarely shows it. He has planning down to a science. For example, he begins booking the team’s five-star road hotels as soon as the schedule becomes known.
“We stay in a lot of the same places, year after year, so the people at those hotels know us,” he said. “A lot of pro teams use the same hotels that we do, so the hotels work with us.”
If Egins books the team into a new hotel, the one thing he knows for certain is that there must be a Starbucks available in the lobby.
“The boys have to have their morning coffee,” he said.
There are minor crises, from time to time. In May 2016, for example, the Rockies were rained out in Pittsburgh on a Sunday afternoon and the game was rescheduled for Monday. Problem was, the Rockies were already checked out of their hotel, so Egins had to scramble to find accommodations for one more night in Pittsburgh.
The other part of the problem was that many of the players’ wives were scheduled to meet their husbands in Boston on Monday before the start of a three-game series with the Red Sox.
“So, we lost our off day in Boston and then I had to make sure all of the wives had their own rooms to stay in until we got arrived,” Egins said. “Those make for long, stressful days.”
But nothing has ever stressed him out more than the time he “lost” that bag full of money at DIA. That was back in 2006 when players were still handed out their meal money in cash.
“I had a stress fracture in my ankle and I was hobbling around on crutches,” Egins recalled. “I got on the plane and it felt like something was missing. You know that terrible feeling?
“I usually carried that bag in my hand, but because of the crutches, I couldn’t. So it dawned on me that I had left the bag on the tarmac! I was scared to death! I thought I had just lost $30-40,000 of Dick Monfort’s money. Oh man, my heart starts beating just talking about it now.”
Fortunately for Egins, Brad Andress, the Rockies’ strength coach at the time, had yet to board the plane and was near where the bags were being loaded. Egins called Andres on his cellphone, Andres found the bag of cash and the day was saved.