Diamondbacks Pay Tribute to Yarnell Fire Fighters

After a brutal road trip that included 20 plus hours of baseball and rain delays in New York alone I’m sure the Diamondbacks were looking forward to getting back to Chase Field. Despite the amazing experiences I had in New York, including the epic Heath Bell Experience; I too was looking forward to being back home in section 132.

Today’s game was special for a number of reasons. The least of which was the fact that it was the Independence Day home game since the team was away for the Fourth of July. That meant there would be a special fireworks display after the game. Personally I was hoping for a big fireworks display during the games preferably from the Dbacks and not the Rockies offense.

photo 1We arrived at the stadium very early to take advantage of the Season Ticket Holder early entry. The giveaway was a patriotic T-shirt for the first 15,000 fans. There were already droves of people wandering about in front of the stadium and gates would not open to the general public for another 45 minutes.

As we entered the stadium the Diamondbacks were already on the field taking batting practice. Each player was wearing a Prescott Fire Department hat. Seeing the Diamondbacks players solidarity made me very proud to be a fan of this team.

The Dbacks had planned a tribute to the 19 firefighters who lost their lives in the Yarnell wild fire. The game had a 6:40 PM start time but they were recommending that everyone be in their seats no later than 6:00 PM.

photo 2From the moment that the gates opened you could tell that it would be an above average sized crowd. While some were there for the fireworks, most were there to support the fallen firemen. The walk-up traffic for tickets was one of the largest for the year with sales of over 15,000 tickets in the past 48-hours. Fans that had not pre-purchased tickets for today’s game were turned away as the ticket office announced the game was a sellout.

As the pre-game ceremony began there were representatives from each branch of the armed services color guards. In centerfield was the Arizona Fire Service Bagpipe and Drum band, which included representatives from all over the state.

photo 4On dbTBV the team showed a photomontage of each of the firefighters who lost their lives. Musical accompaniment was by the Bagpipe and Drum band who played “Amazing Grace”. It was an emotional moment for everyone in attendance. Looking around, the fans were clearly touched with many wiping tears from their cheeks.

The Diamondbacks typically run a 50/50 raffle at each game. The Diamondbacks Foundation identifies charities and half the raffle proceeds go to the winner and the other half go to the chosen charity. For tonight’s game the proceeds were to go to support the firefighters who left families behind.

photo 5 The events on and off the field had everyone in a giving mood. By the end of the game fans had donated $100,016 to the 50/50 raffle meaning the winner would be taking home $50,008. More importantly that meant that the fans had provided $50,008 to help the firemen’s families. When the final amount was announced the crowd cheered each other and the generosity they had shown.

The 50/50 raffle was not the only effort going on. The special black jerseys that the Diamondbacks wore during the game are being auctioned off at dbacks.com/auctions. The team has also set up a web page dbacks.com/19 that allows people to donate to this most worthy cause.

It was a humbling game that seemed to have little to do with baseball. It was a way for communities to come together and share the grief they had suffered. There were countless stories through the ballpark of people who knew one of the firefighters or someone who was a first responder somewhere in the state.

These 19 firefighters were recognized but this was more than just that. It was about showing gratitude to anyone who helps to keep us safe. Whether that is a member of the military, police and fire departments, or anyone that makes our lives a little safer. It’s easy to forget their sacrifice so having days like today to remind us are very special indeed.

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