Warren creating his own history
Former Rockies minor leaguer forging unique path
DENVER -- Chris Warren hasn't been around long enough to make much history; he turned 28 in November. But the story of Warren, a former infielder in the Colorado system who is beginning a job as the Rockies' advance scout, fits perfectly into Black History Month.
It's a story about education, values and work ethic to realize a dream. It's about taking what others see as setback and turning it into opportunity.
It's a story Warren is just beginning to write. The advance scouting job, which mostly entails watching videotape of upcoming opponents and opposing pitchers and supplying reports that manager Clint Hurdle and the coaching staff will use during games, is basically an entry-level job.
But Warren could be beginning to fashion a story worthy of history if he continues on his current path. No matter where his footsteps eventually lead, his path is worth following.
"A lot of my friends have told me that I'm starting out so young, maybe I can be a general manager one day," Warren said. "My motivation and drive is to do something like that.
"But right now, what I'm doing mostly is listening a lot to the guys around here, (Rockies general manager) Dan O'Dowd and the staff. They're trying to feed me all the information I need to do the job. Maybe one day, I'll have the opportunity to move higher."
Warren grew up in the Athens, Ga., area in a family that supported athletic ambitions melded with an educational drive. His father, the late Christopher Warren, was an attorney. His mother, Dr. Elizabeth Watts Warren, is a professor of psychology and sociology at Augusta (Ga.) State University. A three-time Most Valuable Player at Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, Warren went to Howard University in Washington, where he earned another team MVP honor.
"My dad loved baseball," Warren said. "It was his dream to see me sign. It was unfortunate that he passed away just before I got drafted. That was one of the biggest regrets that I have, that he didn't get to see his ultimate dream for me. But I know he's watching from upstairs.
"It was a big thing for me to go to Howard University, a prestigious historically black college. I promised my parents that I would go back and finish. I'm holding onto that."
Warren needs to complete two classes to earn a bachelor's degree in computer information systems, an interest of his since he began figuring out programs as a child. He plans to take the classes locally during offseason time.
The Rockies drafted Warren in the 20th round in 1999 and he played five seasons, mostly with the Rockies' system, although he spent a few games in the Boston chain and in independent ball. The height of his playing days came at the beginning, when he batted .257 and succeeded on 18 of his 20 attempted steals for Colorado's Arizona Rookie League team in 1999.
Through his days in the Rockies' system, Warren would touch several teammates who would become the wave of prospects reaching the Majors now.
"Honestly, anytime I ever wanted to work on fielding groundballs, he was right next to me," said Clint Barmes, who played with Warren and is now the Rockies' projected shortstop for the upcoming season. "As far as hitting goes, he was always there. You're talking about one of the best teammates I ever had."
His .215 professional career average would not get him to the Majors, but his attitude was big league all the way.
"I woke up every morning thinking I was going to get the call one day," Warren said. "But I made it a point that if I didn't get the call, I could help someone else get that call. I hung out with those guys, and I hope those guys picked up on my attitude, on and off the field.
"Baseball, to me, was non-stop. I ate and slept it, and it was the first thing on my mind."
Warren's career ended after the 2003 season, and he went to work for a family friend's construction company supervising the building of a high school in Greenville, S.C. When the Rockies looked to replace advance scout Roger Bailey, a former Colorado pitcher who left the organization to enter private business, they remembered the guy who was so giving of information to players with superior talent.
"He's a great kid, and I take great pride that he is someone who played in our system," O'Dowd said. "Chris will be working with (former Colorado pitcher and current pro scouting director) Jerry Dipoto in this job, and he'll learn more about the front office as he goes. He has a bright future."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.