There seems to be certain days that stick out in your mind and you can remember the exact place you were at and what you were doing. Many of these days are associated with historic events such as the bombings of 9/11, or when man first walked on the moon.
March 9, 1995 is one of those days for me. I can recall even the minutest detail of that day as if it happened yesterday. It started out like most any other Arizona day. The sun was shining and nary a cloud in the sky.
It was a workday, which meant that I was in the office wishing I had the day off. Major League Baseball was in the midst of a work stoppage. Spring Training was happening around the valley but the clubs were using replacement players in the games.
I was never a fan of the concept of using replacement players but as a fan it was hard to take sides with either the owners or the players on this. They were both acting like children and the ire of the fans was beginning to reach a boiling point.
Despite all of woes in baseball it was still at the forefront of my mind that day. The owners had been meeting in Palm Beach Florida that week. They had several items on their agenda but for fans in Arizona there was only one thing they were interested in. Would Major League Baseball again expand and if so would Arizona receive a franchise?
Jerry Colangelo and influential Arizona leaders were there waiting to hear. The expansion committee had met the day before and made their recommendations. Besides recommending two new franchises be added, they also met to set the price for what fees the teams would have to pay.
There are a lot of stories about that. Colangelo claims MLB pulled a fast one significantly increasing the expansion fee just hours before the announcement. There were rumors that the proposed ownership groups considered walking away from what they viewed as extortion.
Despite all of the drama, no one flinched and the prospective team owners agreed to the terms of expansion. What that behind them, baseball commissioner Bud Selig held a news conference to announce that just two years after MLB expanded to include Denver and Miami, they would award two new franchises.
The cities vying for new teams included Portland Oregon, Northern Virginia, Orlando Florida, Tampa Bay Florida, and Phoenix Arizona. The frontrunners were Tampa Bay and Phoenix but baseball rarely does things conventionally so baseball fans were not exactly sure what to expect.
At the press conference Selig announced that baseball would expand by two teams and that the new franchises would begin play in 1998. The principle owners were allowed to unveil the team names and logos.
As we all know, the franchises awarded were the Tampa Bay Devil Rays now the Tampa Bay Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks. I sat in my office listening to the announcement that Major League Baseball was coming to Arizona.
I had my wife Trina on the phone. She was at home watching the press conference describing the team logos, colors, and name. It should be noted that Trina’s first impression was that the Devil Rays logo and color scheme was much better than the purple and teal of Arizona.
It’s funny that within a decade both of these teams would change their logos, colors, and in the case of Tampa Bay their names. Perhaps Trina wasn’t as far off as I first imagined.
In 1995 there wasn’t much of an Internet so getting this news was much more difficult than it would be today. Nonetheless the news did travel throughout the valley and baseball fans everywhere rejoiced in the knowledge that Major League Baseball was just three short years away from being played in Phoenix.