Players Increase Interaction with Fans

As I arrived at Chase Field, both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Houston Astros decided against having batting practice. This is a relatively common occurrence. Teams rarely hold batting practice at a day game after a night game especially if the day game is the final game of a weekend series.

For fans that arrive at the field early, this can be a somewhat disappointing discovery. They had hoped to be able to see their favorite players or perhaps catch a batting practice baseball before the actual game starts. Instead they find the grounds crew raking the infield for an hour.

What was somewhat surprising to me was that there were several of the Arizona Diamondbacks players who were out on the field warming up by playing catch. Usually this occurs prior to the gates opening so the fans rarely see this.

After playing catch the players normally will run into the dugout and disappear to the clubhouse to get ready for the day’s game. Today that was not the case. Shortly after completing their drills, nearly every player who was out came over to the wall and began talking with the fans.

They took an extraordinary amount of time signing autographs for nearly everyone they could reach. They talked with the fans and posed for countless numbers of pictures.

Sometimes when a player comes to the stands they will sign one or two autographs and it always looks like they do this begrudgingly. Today though every player acted as though they were enjoying meeting the fans, definitely something new.

Clearly manager Kirk Gibson is making an impact on these players. He sets the example before every game he makes an effort to come over and talk with a few fans or sign some autographs.

I have heard him talking to the Diamondbacks players or motion some of them over to be closer to the fans and to give something back to the people who buy tickets to watch them play. In a time where players are making millions of dollars on each contract and distancing themselves from the average fan it is nice to see Gibson reminding these young players they owe everything to the paying fans.

I applaud the Diamondbacks for being so concerned about fan experience. This is not just a subject that is talked about but one that is acted upon. Whether it is CEO/President Derrick Hall taking time to talk to the fans at every game or online at his monthly chat or the coaches and players that recognize the fans the message resonates throughout the organization.

I only wish this kind of behavior was the norm rather than being called out as an exception. Hopefully others will follow this lead and put the fans back at the center of the game where they should be.

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