“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” – the Serenity Prayer
Victoria Monfort was only 48 years old when she passed away. She was discovered alone in her Jamestown, Colorado home. A son in Lincoln, Nebraska had contacted authorities concerned that he had not been able to contact Victoria for several days. Responding officers had no choice but to break in after they knocked and she failed to respond. They discovered Victoria slumped lifelessly against a living room couch. An autopsy later revealed that Victoria exhibited “several classic signs of life-long alcoholism”, according to an article the next day in the Greeley Tribune.
Victoria had once been the wife of Colorado beef magnate Charlie Monfort who, along with Oren Benton, purchased controlling interest in the Colorado Rockies in 1992 from Mickey Monus. Charlie’s brother, Dick, bought Benton’s share of the team and became vice-chairman of the Rockies on December 8, 1997. From then on the Brothers Monfort were in control of a Major League Baseball franchise which was enjoying fantastic financial success. Charlie, however, was not in control of his own life. He would tell a reporter from the 700 Club: “I partied a lot. You’d get up and you’d go to work, and then you’d go out with friends. It was just the same old routine over and over; and you know, drank excessively and had a pretty good night life. So that was the basis of Charlie Montfort. There was nothing else there.”
“My name is Charlie and I am an alcoholic”
Charlie Monfort’s blood alcohol level was an outrageous .209 when he was arrested in Greeley in 1999 after failing to signal for a left hand turn. He had been imbibing that evening at one of a small chain of steak joints he owned. Drinking there was part of his routine. Charlie was given eighteen months probation for the offense and was forced to receive treatment for alcoholism. In a public statement he claimed: "I have in the past tried, and will in future endeavor, to be responsible in my personal behavior."
In the wake of Charlie’s embarrassing arrest he met Vanessa, who would become his next wife. Vanessa had a profound influence on Charlie. He told the 700 Club: “When she first met me she said, ‘I only date Christians.’ And I said, ‘hey! I’m a Christian. I’m there with you; I agree.” With Vanessa’s guidance Charlie turned to Christianity for answers: “I slowed down. I slowed way down the first couple years with her, because I found somebody stable and we spent all the time together; so I wasn’t doing all the party stuff. I was still drinking quite a bit, but wasn’t doing all the partying, wasn’t going out.”
Charlie’s newfound devotion to religion seeped into every aspect of the Rockies’ organization early in the new millennium. It became a calling card of the Colorado Rockies and something that the media seized upon. In June of 2006 then Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings told Bob Nightengale of USA Today: "They do preach character and good living here. It's a must for them, and that starts from the very top. But we're not a military group. ... Nobody is going to push their beliefs on each other or make judgments. We do believe that if you do things right and live your life right, good things are going to happen." Good things did happen for the Rockies that season. Enough good things, in fact, that they made it to the World Series.
Since then not much good has happened at 20th and Blake. The Rockies have been locked in a pattern of mediocrity. And Charlie Monfort seems to be locked in old patterns, too. By all reports the man looks terrible, physically eroding and displaying the attributes of a hardened drinker. His eyes have begun to sink back into their sockets the way the eyes of desperate men do. His behavior is erratic and his penchant for liquor is as apparent as it was that night in Greeley.
In the media area at Coors Field last night, in front of assembled reporters, Monfort confronted Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla, telling him to stick to writing about high school sports. Kiszla discussed the incident on the Press Box show on Mile High Sports and Denver Post dot com this morning, stating that Monfort stunk of alcohol. David Martin of Rockies Review, a respected Rockies web site, told me that Kiszla made every effort to diffuse the situation with Monfort and that the scribe was “in no way out of line”. It was Martin’s introduction of the incident through social media that brought it into the light.
It’s a poorly-hidden secret of the Colorado Rockies organization that its CEO abuses alcohol. For supporters of the club it should be a worry. For friends and family of Charlie Monfort it should be a grave concern. Last nights “Thanks, Todd” game at Coors Field was Colorado’s biggest baseball party since the World Series. Charlie Monfort was the host. That he could not reel in his drinking at least enough to avoid an embarrassing confrontation with a media member says that Charlie Monfort needs help. The man should be put into treatment right away.
Alcoholism is a slow and painful form of suicide. This is something that Victoria Monfort knew. Her eventual death was her escape from the insidious disease. Charlie will be 54 years old on October 30. He is still young enough to be helped and to live out the rest of his years without the torment of alcoholism. But he will not seek out treatment on his own. Somebody will need to intervene. The life of a man like Monfort is filled with fund raisers and galas, social clubs and three-martini lunches. For an alcoholic it’s an almost inescapable trap.
If David Martin’s early morning Tweet revealing Monfort’s confrontation with Mark Kiszla led Kiszla to discuss it on the radio and that leads to the Colorado Rockies finally admitting publicly that their CEO has a problem then Martin will have done more to advance the cause of the club than even Todd Helton. And, if Monfort gets help, Martin may end up having saved his life.