Hometown Tour

A few days ago the Arizona Diamondbacks announced the annual Hometown Tour. This has been a fan favorite for the past several years. Caravans travel the state carrying players, coaches, and announcers meeting with fans and giving them a chance to make a connection with the team. Most of the caravans travel to far off places around the state allowing everyone in Arizona to be counted as Diamondbacks fans. Unfortunately the local Phoenix fan is usually left out of the festivities. This year though the team took into account that there were many of us who couldn’t wait for baseball to start. Of the four caravans, three had stops around the Valley of the Sun. Looking over the schedule, the South tour was the one I was most excited about. Chandler resident and Diamondbacks third baseman Chad Tracy would headline this tour stop. He would be accompanied by golden glove second baseman Orlando Hudson would also be there to provide fans with a chance to thank him for all the highlights we experienced last season. Pitching phenom Dustin Nippert rounded out the players in this caravan. The final participant would be broadcaster and former pitcher Tom Candiotti. As soon as I read this I immediately begin to make plans to take the kids to see the Hometown Tour at the Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe.

The tour was scheduled to begin at 12:15 PM and would last until 1:45. Players would be available to meet the fans and sign autographs. Dakota has determined that he would like to try and collect all of the players signatures on one ball this season. He went to his basket and carefully selected the 2007 Diamondbacks ball. He loaded it into a plastic bag along with a pen and was ready to go. We climbed into the car and made our way to the Arizona Mills mall. Dakota insisted that we leave extra early so that we would be there on time. The directions on the web site were somewhat unclear exactly where at the mall the event would be located. We drove around the parameter looking for where an RV filled with Diamondbacks players would be. We must have been there too early as there were no signs of anything special going on. After parking the car we made our way into the mall and began searching for the Hometown Tour. We stopped at information booths and several stores asking everyone where the Diamondbacks would be appearing. Finally we found one gentleman working at the north information booth who said he believed the event would be held in the food court. We quickly made our way there finding several tables and decorations set up. The decorations didn’t appear to be either Sedona Red or Purple. They looked like some sort of animation. This had to be the place though, there was a stage set up and there seemed to be a growing population of baseball fans. We asked some of the people from the mall if this was where the Diamondbacks players would be appearing. No one knew anything about it. Trina and the kids stayed there while I continued to wander around looking for more information. As I returned to the food court I was shocked to see that a line had formed and everyone had some sort of Diamondbacks apparel on. Trina and the kids were very near the front of the line patiently standing and waiting. I began counting the crowd and found that over 100 people were in attendance waiting for the Diamondbacks to arrive. I looked at my watch and noticed that it was now 12:45 PM meaning the players were already 30 minutes late. The fans in line were beginning to become a little restless and were starting to make some noise. Security was soon approaching trying to figure out where all these people were and why they were all standing next to the sign that said No Loitering. By 12:50 PM Trina was beginning to think that perhaps this event was not going to happen. I scolded her for even thinking that. The Diamondbacks would never let down their loyal fans, they just wouldn’t. Just as I finished that statement though the head of the security detail called for attention and announced that there would not be a Diamondbacks Hometown Tour at the Arizona Mills mall. There seemed to be some misunderstanding as the team had called to schedule the event earlier and the Arizona Mills mall declined to participate as they had another event going on today and could not support both going forward. Unfortunately the Diamondbacks failed to notify the fans of this change. The mall regrets any inconvenience this may have caused and asked that the fans please disburse and move along. I looked around and saw a lot of very disappointed faces from young children to elderly adults. Just a few minutes ago these same faces were full of joy and anticipation thinking about meeting some of the players from their hometown team. Now they were walking dejected back to their cars many talking about their disappointment and how the team had let them down. It was especially hard to see all the little kids some in their new Sedona Red jerseys and hats as their parents tried to explain why they weren’t going to see their heroes today. Today started out so well but turned out so poorly. You may be wondering what event could be more important than the appearance of the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was a coloring contest to celebrate the upcoming DVD release of the animation film Open Season. How ironic that Open Season killed this pre-season Diamondbacks event. I can say with a certainty that I will never own this movie nor will it be allowed in my house. You don’t mess with a loyal baseball fan.

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