When the alarm went off this morning I jumped out of bed and went to get the kids up. The last thing I needed was to be blamed for yet another tardy on their report cards. Rather than singing my praises with gratitude I was told, “There’s no school today dad!”
What? There’s no school? What kind of ridiculous excuse did the school system come up with this time to get another day off? They were just out last month and now we have another holiday?
Wait, they have a day just for presidents? Shouldn’t that be like the answer you got from your parents when you asked why there was no Kid’s Day if there was a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day? When I was growing up I was told that every day is Kid’s Day. No one could ever explain to me why then did I never get any presents if every day was Kid’s Day.
It’s President’s Day? Well I guess if anyone deserves a day just for themselves it should be the greatest president in my lifetime, Derrick Hall.
When the Arizona Diamondbacks became a franchise, I had the opportunity to meet Rich Dozier. He was an amazing guy and very focused on building the Diamondbacks brand and making things great for the fans. I remember the day I heard he was leaving the Diamondbacks. I was convinced no one could ever replace him.
Derrick Hall was named the new president. Before he even took over the job Derrick began reaching out to fans. I remember getting an email from him stating that he was interested in meeting me and getting to know me better. I was positive that he had made a mistake and sent the email to the wrong person but I didn’t dare tell him that.
We made an appointment to meet. I remember going to the ballpark that off-season telling the receptionist I was there to see Derrick Hall President of the Arizona Diamondbacks. I was wearing my best running shoes just in care the gig was up and they realized I was just some fan and not the influential guy everyone was expecting. Instead I was led to Derrick’s office where I sat with many of the more senior level brain trust of the Diamondbacks.
The meeting was amazing. Derrick and his staff peppered me with questions as we talked about the team and what I thought from a fan’s perspective. My head was just swimming as I left his office. I’d never been asked for my opinion especially by someone who was leading a team or a company.
The funny thing was, several of the ideas I suggested ended up being implemented. And it wasn’t just me; Derrick went out of his way to be approachable and meet with everyone he could. To this day I know that if I send him an email I will get a response.
Looking back at his tenure to date Derrick has made some amazing changes to the Diamondbacks that have led to them being the most fan-friendly team in sports. Changes such as implementing a scholarship program for fans who cannot afford Season Tickets and the approachability of the players through community events have led the Diamondbacks into becoming the most admired team in Major League Baseball.
It’s not just the things Derrick does on the job though. Over the last couple of years I have had several medical issues that have worn me down. An unknown mass was found in my abdomen and doctors began using the dreaded “cancer” word.
Last year things escalated and it was determined I would need surgery. I was hoping to put it off until after the season but the surgeons we emphatic that it needed to be done now. I won’t lie I was scared.
As the day of my surgery approached, I received an email and phone call from Derrick. He just wanted to talk and reassure me that everything was going to be ok. We talked a little about his experiences and he made my wife promise she would let him know as soon as I was out of surgery and what the doctor said.
That’s not just a guy inquiring about a customer. This is a person who has a close relationship with everyone he meets. Derrick will never know how much our talks and emails meant to me. It helped me through some very dark times and I will forever be in his debt for that.
So this is one of the few times when I agree with the school system. If there was ever a person that deserved to have their own holiday it’s Derrick Hall. And it will be just like Derrick to try and not take credit for this and want to share it with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I’m not even sure those two were baseball fans come to think of it.