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Former Grizzlies Owner Cummings Dies at Age 70

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Chris Cummings, center, showed off his championship rings with team executives Derek Franks and Lance Cardoza. (Special to GV Wire)
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Chris Cummings, former owner of the Fresno Grizzlies, died Friday after a two-year battle with esophageal cancer, his family said.

He was 70. He is survived by his daughter, Ginny.

Under his tenure, the Grizzlies won the 2015 Triple-A championship. His teams also boasted the fact they were the top minor league affiliate for four World Series champions (2010, 2012, 2014 for the Giants and 2017 for the Astros). They were also the top affiliate for the World Champion Washington Nationals in 2019, after he sold the team.

Cummings served as managing general partner for Fresno Sports Management, the organization that purchased the Grizzlies in 2005.

A Red Sox Fan

Originally from Rhode Island, Cummings became a real estate developer. At one point in the mid-2000s, Cummings attempted to put together a group to buy the Boston Red Sox, his favorite childhood team.

Work took Cummings to Fresno, where he also developed real estate. When his effort to buy the Red Sox failed, he made inquiries through then-Mayor Alan Autry to buy the Grizzlies.

“His favorite thing at the ballpark was to go around with baseballs and meet families, and gift a ball to a child. He was a classic. A lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, who just plain loved baseball as the great American pastime,” said Mona Nyandoro Cummings, his former wife who remains active in the local scene as CEO of Tree Fresno.

Said Autry: “Chris was a a great visionary and exceptional businessman who always put loving people over making a buck. Fresno and the Valley will always owe Chris Cummings a debt of gratitude. My thoughts, prayers and condolences to his family.”

Cummings, through his wife, found an affinity for Zimbabwe. He considered moving there after selling the team to be with his family. He served the TTI Foundation, a board that helped provide educational opportunities for girls.

After selling the team, Cummings retired to Boynton Beach, Florida.

Chris Cummings, right, poses for a photo with his family, then-wife Mona Nyandoro Cummings, and children Tandiwe Nayandoro and Wesley Nyandoro, with San Francisco Giants legend Will Clark (center). (special to GV Wire)

His group sold the team to its current ownership group, Fresno Sports and Events, in 2018.

Cummings also owned the Fresno Falcons minor league hockey team, and Fresno Fuego minor league soccer team at various times.

While the Grizzlies found success on the field, it was a financial struggle to pay the lease for city-owned Chukchansi Park. Even with a beneficial naming rights deal with the Chukchansi Gold casino, the city had adjust the lease for a lower rent.

Franks Remembers His Friend

Current team president Derek Franks started with the team as an intern under Cummings’ ownership. Franks famously went from the guy who dressed up as a hot dog for an on-field promotion to the man in charge.

He remembered his friend Cummings.

“We are extremely saddened by the news of Chris Cummings’ passing. As the former Managing Partner and President of the Grizzlies, Chris made a permanent impact during his tenure that will always be remembered. Chris had a deep love for the game of baseball and sincerely cared about our fans. He thoroughly enjoyed putting smiles on people’s faces and went out of his way to create special moments for everyone who visited Chukchansi Park.

“Chris took great pride in the fun and creative aspects of the Minor League Baseball business and pushed us to be innovative. We were able to do so many fun and interesting things during his tenure because of his enthusiasm and energy for new ideas.

“Chris treated me and my family like his own, and I am forever grateful that he took a chance and trusted me to hold an important role with the club. Chris’s legacy is still apparent daily at Chukchansi Park in the memories he helped forge and the community-focused environment he instilled in our entire organization. Chris should be remembered for his kind heart and the passion and effort he put into making the Fresno Grizzlies something special for this community. Our sincerest condolences go out to his family and close friends for their loss,” Franks said in a text.

[Update, 11/04/22, 8 p.m.: the original story reported that Cummings died of stomach cancer. His family says it was actually esophageal cancer. The story has been updated.]

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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