John Carbray, the former Fresno Grizzlies (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) president credited with leading the push to bring the franchise to Fresno, died Saturday at the age of 80.
Carbray is an important figure in Grizzlies history, as he worked with investors and local officials on plans to lure a Triple-A franchise and build a new downtown ballpark–ultimately securing the city its first affiliated Minor League Baseball franchise since the late 1980’s. He began overseeing the team’s day-to-day operations in 1998, its first season in Fresno, and continued working with the club during its years at Fresno State’s Beiden Field before transitioning to the new ballpark (now known as Chukchansi Park) in 2002. In that season, Carbray was awarded Pacific Coast League Executive of the Year honors.
In the years following his departure from the Grizzlies, Carbray remained active in the community and continued to attend games at Chukchansi Park and Grizzlies’ events. More from the Fresno Bee:
“He loved people, and his love of the fans always showed through,” Carbray’s son David wrote in a message to The Bee. “He really treated the parking lot attendant, ticket taker, salesman, and investor with the same respect.
“He had a personal relationship with everyone he came across. I have always been proud to be his son.”
Carbray’s leadership stint with the Grizzlies ended tumultuously. As financial losses mounted, the baseball franchise’s original ownership group stripped him of his daily power and sued him for breach of contract. That suit was eventually dismissed.
Nonetheless, Carbray often returned to Grizzlies games as a fan over the years and took pride in seeing people fill the stadium. He also was often invited to the Grizzlies’ Hot Stove event during the offseasons.
Carbray’s death came after a years-long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
The Grizzlies released the following statement that recognized his contributions to the franchise:
Our statement on the death of Fresno Grizzlies founder John Carbray: November 9, 1938 – August 10, 2019.
Thank you John for bringing professional baseball back to Fresno.#Growlifornia🐻 pic.twitter.com/KgVMyxXVLd
— Fresno Grizzlies (@FresnoGrizzlies) August 11, 2019