Statement from Columbus Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko on the passing of former Crew executive Jamey Rootes
On behalf of the Columbus Crew, I want to extend our deepest condolences to the family of former Crew executive Jamey Rootes, who we learned passed away on Monday.
Jamey served as the first General Manager of the Columbus Crew and the significance of that is not lost on me as a man who was raised in Columbus and eagerly awaited the first match 27-plus years ago as a then-season ticket member.
On July 7, 1995, Jamey was hired, several months before the Black & Gold colors – or the team name for that matter – had been announced. For four seasons, he held the position of General Manager and later President and General Manager of the team, helping guide the Black & Gold through their first seasons in Major League Soccer as charter member number 1.
He helped build the 1996 roster and made arguably one of the biggest selections in draft history for the Club, picking two-time All-American and eventual Crew Circle of Honor inductee, Brian McBride. Other key players we would cheer on were later added: Robert Warzycha, Mike Clark, Brian Bliss, Bo Oshoniyi and many more. His time at Indiana University as a member of the coaching staff allowed him to work with players like Todd Yeagley and Brian Maissoneuve, two Crew greats that Jamey later added to the Crew roster for that very first season. It wasn’t long before my coworker Dante Washington joined the Crew, cementing Jamey’s Crew ties and ensuring his role had a lasting impact.
He was with the Club in the 1999 season as the team opened Historic Crew Stadium, helping forever alter the trajectory of Major League Soccer and the history of the Crew.
On a personal note, many years ago as a young, season ticket holder, I once cold-called Jamey. I was fascinated with his role and career trajectory and was eager to learn about various tracks into the sports industry. He graciously took my call that day and offered his time and his wisdom. Over the years, I spoke to him on multiple occasions, and each time I was struck by his generosity and willingness to help. I am forever grateful for the insights he shared with me. It was something that, as an aspiring sports industry executive, remained impactful and memorable to me. I know my story is just one of many people who he mentored and was a role model over the years.
I am grateful to Jamey for the amount of time he invested in this Club in the early days. I am terribly sorry for his loss and extend the Club’s thoughts and prayers to his loved ones during this difficult time.