Earlier this week the Arizona Diamondbacks announced who would be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day. They have given this honor to Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner who recently retired.
Warner has been a fan favorite during his time in Arizona and led them to a Super Bowl in 2009. His departure from football will be greatly felt and for the Diamondbacks to recognize him they should be applauded. While I believe that Warner deserves the honor of throwing out a first pitch, I find myself a little disappointed in the timing of this.
In the Arizona Diamondbacks brief history, they have not had the opportunity to establish the storied traditions that other franchises have made. Having only played in 13 seasons that should be expected.
But in that brief time the Diamondbacks have created what I would refer to as an undocumented tradition. In 1998, the team would open the season against the Colorado Rockies at Bank One Ballpark. The game would be nationally televised allowing everyone to see baseball being born in the Arizona desert.
Leading up to that game the Diamondbacks tossed around several ideas for who should throw out the ceremonial first pitch. There were celebrities, dignitaries, and other special guests who were considered.
In the end the team chose to give that honor to two young fans who were in attendance at the game. So while the team was preparing all of the on-field ceremonies team officials scoured the stands finding a young boy and girl to throw out the pitch.
It was the perfect choice and introduced a philosophy that continues to permeate the team’s values to this day. It let everyone know that the fans come first. A lot of teams say that but the Diamondbacks go out of their way to show how important they feel the fans are to their success.
Since that time the Diamondbacks have predominately given the honor of the ceremonial first pitch to the fans. It may not have happened every year but for the most part that has been the case.
I have long applauded this undocumented tradition and look to it as a source of pride. So this year when they announced a celebrity would do this honor I was just a little disappointed. I will still stand and cheer as Warner takes the mound to throw the pitch but in the back of my mind I will think about the fans and a missed opportunity.