Putting Things in Perspective

On Monday I took part in the Arizona Diamondbacks first annual TweetUp. I was seated next to Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall who I have known since he became the team’s president after the 2005 season. Through the years we have interacted on several occasions.

Derrick is one of those rare individuals who always make you feel special. He listens intently to whatever you are saying regardless of how crazy it may sound. He diligently answers every fan’s question and tries to make everyone feel like the most important fan the team has. It’s easy to admire someone like Derrick. His goal to be the most fan-friendly franchise is not just idle marketing hype but a strong desire to do what is right for the fans.

Tuesday my iPhone beeped notifying me of a message. I reached over and looked at the screen that announced Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The color in my face immediately went white as I stood there barely able to read the message because my hands were shaking so badly.

The news could not have been any more personal had it been a member of my own family. In a sense the Diamondbacks are my family. I spend more time with the team than I do with my own wife and kids (or so Trina continues to remind me). This news hit a little closer to home than it may have for others.

Those of you who follow my web site and blog may have noticed that I have not been quite as diligent this season as I have been in years past updating the content. Normally I blog every day but this year things have caused me to take some time off and not write quite as much as I would like.

Late last fall I began to have health issues myself and went through multiple doctors as they tried to assess what was happening with me. At some point the doctors began to use the “C” word. They talked about the potential of having prostrate cancer or pancreatic cancer.

You are never prepared for that conversation. Your mind goes through multiple states and emotions from denial to anger, to apathy, to self-pity. It’s easy to begin feeling sorry for yourself. You want to just curl up in a cocoon and shut out the world. I started finding myself in such a funk even before I had all of the facts.

Luckily for me I had some caring friends within the Diamondbacks organization that were there to help. My season ticket representative Mandi Howard kept close tabs on me and when she couldn’t get ahold of me she reached out to my daughter to check on progress. At the time I didn’t know that she was sharing this information with others including Derrick.

As Spring Training came closer the Diamondbacks invited me to a preview of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. It was just what I needed to help me get out of my shell and see that life wasn’t over. I accepted the invitation and went up to the fields that were still under construction.

After checking in at the registration table I saw Derrick along with Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick. They both came over and shook my hand and we talked. They were genuinely concerned about me. I was extremely emotional and touched by their concern. They offered whatever help I needed suggesting specialists that could help me.

While I thanked them, the level of my gratitude could never be expressed in words. These two men showed more compassion than I thought possible. That’s what makes the Diamondbacks so special. They care about you as a family member, not as a customer or a ticket. It’s things like this that make me a Diamondbacks fan for life. The numbers in the win and loss column are secondary to the fact that I am now a part of their family and families stick together no matter what kind of adversity you face.

When I finally composed myself I sat down and sent an email to Derrick telling him that I was there for him. Whether he needed someone to talk to or just as a friend standing beside him. Unlike me, Derrick chose to make his fight public. Anyone that knows him will understand. It is not that Derrick is looking for sympathy. Instead he wants to use his battle to educate others and bring awareness to prostrate cancer so that others will go and be checked catching this early in the progress.

Even in times of personal trial Derrick is still thinking of others. I continue to admire his example and feel grateful for knowing him as I do. I challenged Derrick to think of this as a battle to the post season. The true magic number will be when the doctors give him a clean bill of health. In the meantime I’ll be cheering not just for the Arizona Diamondbacks but also for their CEO Derrick Hall.

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