Weiss grateful to be surrounded by family
Rockies manager appreciates good health, spending time with wife and sons
DENVER -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss and his family wish everyone a white, sandy beach Christmas. Weiss, his wife, Terri, and their four sons plan on holiday sunshine.
"We have a little place in Captiva, Fla., that we rent out all year, but we block it out for the holidays -- about for the last 10 Christmases," Weiss said. "It took a little getting used to, having Christmas at 75 degrees. It's a little different, but you can't complain. I didn't take too long, and we've really grown to like it.
"There's a little church, the Chapel by the Sea, and we go there the night before Christmas every year for the evening service, and there's a canopy of lights. It's a really nice setting right there on the beach. There's a restaurant on the island we go to for Christmas Eve. My wife, Terri, and I have the kids with us, and we pull a little tree out of the closet. It's kind of like a Charlie Brown version, not like the real trees we're used to back in Denver, but it works."
Weiss, celebrating his second holiday season as Rockies manager -- he was hired last November -- took time to be thankful for some of the gifts that can't be wrapped and placed under the tree but are just as valuable.
Brody Weiss, the second of his four boys, began his freshman year at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Brody became extremely ill in 1998 at age 3 when he was infected with the dangerous E. coli bacteria, which left him at high risk for future infections. Twice this semester at UCSB, he contracted MRSA, a staph infection that is resistant to antibiotics, and doctors had to take special precautions.
"MRSA is more and more prevalent, especially in locker rooms and among teams, so he had to be quarantined from his teammates," Weiss said. "It came back on him midway through the fall. It was a challenge for him his first semester at college, but he's feeling a lot better and getting stronger. He should be back 100 percent. He's a shortstop, so he's trying to break in, and that's difficult as a freshman. He's learned a lot in intrasquad games and we'll see how the spring goes."
Bo Weiss has developed into a high-school player despite being born with a club foot. Last year, he sustained fractures in the right foot on two occasions. But Bo has continued his baseball career at Regis Jesuit High School, where Walt was head coach in 2012, by embracing pitching.
"We had to really monitor his workload, and how much running he did because that foot is susceptible to injury," Weiss said. "That made his path to pitching a little easier to accept, although he still thinks of himself as a hitter. He's really making progress on the mound now.
"It's always No. 1 that we're always thankful for health, and we tend to take that for granted when we're doing well. As we've seen, that can change in a minute, so health is at the top of the list of things to be grateful for. Just to be healthy and be together as a family in such a beautiful spot, and celebrate Christmas, that's good enough for us."
Weiss said he also looks forward to spending time with his oldest son, Blake, who is past the publicity that came with his athletic career -- when he concentrated on track and football more than baseball -- but is contributing to society.
"He's living and working in Denver, working downtown at a non-profit rehab center," Weiss said. "It's a rewarding job for him."
The youngest Weiss, Brock, as anyone can imagine, is having the time of his life when he's around Rockies players.
"You know, we run a pretty tight ship with the kids when they're around the club, but Brock, our little one, tends to bend the rules a little bit," Weiss said. "As soon as I turn around for very long, he's often in the clubhouse holding court with the players. He thinks he's one of the guys and every once in a while, I've got to reel him in a little bit.
"The first year back has been great for my kids, getting to be around the players and around the game. That's something they really cherish."
Weiss worked for the Rockies as a special advisor to chief baseball officer Dan O'Dowd from 2002-08 before leaving to spend more time with his family and coach various sports at the youth level. After taking the managerial job, he found the experience of being back with a Major League team rewarding.
"In a general sense, I'm thankful to be part of a team again," Weiss said. "This is what I loved as a player, and in my job as a special assistant I got some of that, but it wasn't the same. It's what I missed most when I stopped playing, being a part of a group that was trying to win a championship, and do it together. For me, that's the best feeling of all."