SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah graduate Charlie Monfort, a club founder and one of the owners/managing general partners of the Colorado Rockies, returned to his alma mater as the guest speaker at the baseball program’s annual fundraiser.

“I always love coming back here. I really grew up here. I grew up in Colorado but I really grew up in Salt Lake City and the University of Utah,” Monfort said before the gathering at the downtown Sheraton hotel on Tuesday. “What it taught me was how to basically become a man.”

Monfort added that he doesn’t get back to Utah enough.

“I truly don’t. But it’s always such a refreshing moment,” said Monfort, who was accompanied by his wife Charlotte. “When I get back here it’s just a breath of fresh air.”

Accepting an invitation to assist Utah’s baseball program, he explained, was a no-brainer.

“I don’t think I can do what some of the past speakers have done, but I’ll hopefully have a few words that make some sense,” Monfort said beforehand. “It was a privilege when they asked me to come back and speak at this.”

Monfort noted the U. has treated him well and he’s proud to be an alum. 

The feeling is mutual.

“It’s special because naturally he’s connected to the university being an alum and then being the owner of a major league team,” said Utah coach Bill Kinneberg. “That’s pretty special. So we are really grateful to have him and honored to have him.”

Utah opens its season Feb. 14-16 at UC Davis. The Utes will head to St. George this weekend to finish getting some things done.

“Then we kick it off and 15 straight weekends of good baseball,” Kinneberg said. “So we’re ready.”

Tuesday’s event was Utah baseball’s 16th annual fundraiser. Previous speakers have included Terry Francona (2005, 2008, 2017), Cal Ripken Jr. (2006), Brooks Robinson (2007), Harmon Killebrew (2009), Bruce Hurst (2010), Dave Winfield (2011), Ozzie Smith (2012), Tommy Lasorda (2013), John Farrell (2014), Jim Palmer (2015), Ned Yost (2016), Steve Garvey (2018) and Dusty Baker (2019).