Now Taking the Field…

Today was to be the final game of the Tenth Anniversary celebration that began on Friday. The first game featured a return of players from the inaugural season. Game two featured a look back at the great players who have played for the Diamondbacks over the years with the unveiling of the Diamondbacks 10th Anniversary Team. Now today it was time to recognize those who contributed to the success of the franchise who were not players. This included a pregame ceremony that introduced the Arizona Diamondbacks employees who had been with the team for all 10 years. These longtime employees were lined up along the third base line and Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall came by and congratulated each one for the many accomplishments they have made over the first decade. The next groups to be recognized were the partners and sponsors who have been with the Diamondbacks for 10 years. Their names were displayed on dbTV and many were called out and recognized. The final group was the season ticket holders who have had tickets since the inaugural season. These fans were recognized via dbTV but are also featured on a new display beyond the centerfield wall behind the batter’s eye. It was a fitting tribute and very well done. A representative from each group was chosen to throw out a ceremonial first pitch before the game. This was a great tribute and would have made a perfect entry to the blog except something much cooler happened to us.

Initially I was a little disappointed to realize that my name would not appear on the wall of honor in centerfield. Although I have been to every Opening Day and every post season game in Diamondbacks history, and I have attended games every year since they have been a team; I was not a season ticket holder for all 10 seasons. I’ve been asked if I felt slighted at not being recognized but I really am not. I don’t go to the games for recognition; I’ll leave that to people such as Rally Sally. I go to the game because I love it and because I love this team. There is nothing cooler than baseball and especially Arizona Diamondbacks baseball. Over the course of the past 10 years I have had more opportunities than anyone I know and I have the Diamondbacks to thank for that. They have been awesome in making Chase Field a great family experience. My kids have Dakota_Orlando.jpgbasically grown up at Chase Field over the past 10 years and we have gained memories that will live with us for a lifetime. Today was just the latest example of what can happen to just a regular guy who attends a game.

I went down to the ballpark early to watch batting practice and to soak in the atmosphere of the ballpark. I took my 10 year old son Dakota with me. He has been to every Opening Day in Diamondbacks history attending the first one when he was just a baby. From an early age he has accompanied me to the games and averages between 30-40 games per season. He has his own Diamondbacks jersey that he proudly wears to every game. It has his name and number on the back. He has made many friends around the ballpark from vendors to ushers to the guys running Futures Field. Chase Field is Dakota’s backyard. The Diamondbacks have provided the perfect setting for a father and his son to bond and share their love of the greatest game on earth. Today when we came into the stadium we went down to our seats to drop off our seat cushions before making our way around the stadium to explore what’s new. As we were settling down and unpacking our cushions we were approached by a member of the Diamondbacks staff. They asked Dakota if he would be interested in going out onto the field with one of the players for introductions and the National Anthem. Dakota erupted in a smile that would have lit up all of Chase Field. He eagerly agreed and after filling out the appropriate forms we were sent to guest relations. Dakota along with the other children selected were taken down to the field level. I stood in the stands as I watched these children being led to the steps of the dugout. Each of them were assigned to a specific player and when the public address announcer introduced the starting line-up the player would collect their young protégé and run out to their respective position. There they would shake hands and talk to the kids before standing for the playing of our national anthem. At the conclusion the player would sign an autograph and bid the children good bye and the game would begin. I am not sure I have ever been so excited in my life. To see my son given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and talk with a major league baseball player was something I could never imagine. Were it not for the Arizona Diamondbacks he would never have had this experience. For the remainder of the day and all through the evening Dakota recounted standing there with second baseman Orlando Hudson and how afterwards he had signed his jersey (in my excitement I forgot to get Dakota a baseball so he could have it signed). I would gladly trade any recognition I could possibly get so that a child would have an experience such as this. It was an amazing day that neither Dakota nor I will ever forget. We shared something that will remain special to us for our whole lives. Baseball and especially Diamondbacks baseball will forever be the most amazing connection between this father and his son.

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