A Cornucopia of Entertainment

Every so often I am approached by someone, usually a non-baseball fan, who asks the question, “How in the world can you possible go to every Diamondbacks home game?”  They cannot seem to fathom spending 81 nights a season at Chase Field.  My response is typically to tell them I have petitioned Major League Baseball to length the season but so far the commissioner has not acted upon my request.

The thing these people fail to recognize is that it isn’t just baseball that occurs but rather each night we are given the opportunity to see history unfold.  Sometimes that history happens between the foul lines on the field and at other times history occurs outside the playing field.  Tonight was a prime example.

In the early afternoon deep within the confines of Chase Field, a press conference was held.  This press conference signified the closing of a chapter in one man’s life.  Luis Gonzalez sat behind the table and addressed the media announcing his retirement after a career that spanned 19 years.

Gonzalez came to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1999 through a trade with the Detroit Tigers that sent promising outfielder Karim Garcia to Detroit in exchange for Gonzo and cash.  This would go down as one of the most lopsided transactions in the history of Major League Baseball.  Gonzalez would blossom in Arizona becoming a prolific hitter and fan favorite for the next seven years.

farewell_gonzoWhen the Diamondbacks parted ways with its most popular player at the end of the 2006 season they left the door open offering Gonzalez a job with the team after his playing days ended.  At the time it seemed unlikely that would happen.  Gonzalez was unhappy with the way things ended and would play two more years for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Florida Marlins.

This past off season Gonzalez found himself out of baseball with no team offering him a contract.  Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall reached out to Gonzalez and reiterated the team’s interest in Gonzo as a member of his staff.  When the trade deadline came and went and no team called; Gonzalez knew his playing career was finally over.

Today he made that announcement official.  It was an emotional press conference and your heart went out to Gonzalez as he expressed how important baseball was to him.  The Diamondbacks made it a little easier by giving him a great opportunity with the team.  They also announced that today’s game was Luis Gonzalez Appreciation Night showcasing some of the great moments in his career here in Arizona.

The tribute spanned the entire night beginning with a pregame ceremony where managing general partner Ken Kendrick gave Luis Gonzalez the keys to the ballpark and season tickets for his family.  During the game the team showed highlights from Gonzalez’s storied career on dbTV.  After the game was a fireworks celebration bringing the evening to a close.

On the field there was also history being made.  Third baseman Mark Reynolds hit a massive home run to the second deck in route to a Diamondbacks win.  That home run was his 40th of the season putting him one behind league leading Albert Pujols.  Reynolds became only the second Diamondbacks player to ever hit 40 home runs joining Luis Gonzalez in this category.

Before the season began tonight was to be Wild West Night at Chase Field.  It had a western feel to it which was very appropriate given the Diamondbacks were playing the Houston Astros who were once known as the Colt .45’s.

Besides the fireworks after the game there was a free concert featuring Country and Western performers Montgomery Gentry.  I am personally not a fan of country music.  In fact every time my radio starts playing that type of music I take the car to the dealer to have it fixed.

The stands were filled with 10-gallon hats, bushy mustaches, Levis, and cowboy boots.  There were times when I couldn’t tell if I was at a baseball game or a hoedown.  The one thing I can say is that regardless of whether you were a Luis Gonzalez fan, a Country and Western fan, or a Diamondbacks fan; this night held something special for you.

So next time you ask how I could possibly spend 81 nights at Chase Field every summer, stop to think about all the things I would miss out on if I decided to skip a game. Every night it is something different and I want to see it all.

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