DENVER -- Friday was more than the typical homecoming for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
It was not Hurdle's first visit to Coors Field, a place where he spent nearly eight years as the Rockies' manager, in a gold and black uniform. But this time, things were different. This time, he came with a Pirates club that boasted the best record in the Majors.
First among the flood of memories when Hurdle returned to Denver was that of his close friend and former Rockies president Keli McGregor. McGregor, whose initials are inscribed on the right-field wall at Coors Field, died suddenly of a heart attack in April 2010.
Only after the memory of McGregor did Hurdle recall more uplifting moments, like the Rockies' remarkable World Series run in 2007.
"My first thought is Keli McGregor," Hurdle said. "Since I left, the second thought is the flag flying, the 2007 National League Championship flag.
"It was a very, very good place to live. It was a very, very good place to grow, and I was very humbled by the opportunity."
Hurdle, now in his third season with the Pirates, has the most wins of any Rockies manager, finishing 534-625 (.461) before he was fired early in the 2009 season.
But Hurdle said there were no hard feelings about his departure from Colorado. What stays in the forefront of his time with the organization is that the Rockies were the first to offer him his first coaching role as the Minor League hitting instructor in 1994.
"There's nothing but great memories here," Hurdle said. "I was able to spend ... a long time here as a manager. So no, it's all good. This is all about Pittsburgh; this isn't about anything else than us trying to grow as an organization and get good again."
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.