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Arizona Diamondbacks


Phoenix, Arizona



Began Play



National League West

Play-Off Appearances

4 - 1999, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2011 2023

Hall of Famers

Randy Johnson

The Arizona Diamondbacks are a Major League Baseball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. They are in the National League West division.

Franchise history[]

The desire for baseball in the desert[]

In the fall of 1993, Jerry Colangelo, owner of the Phoenix Suns, the area's wildly popular and successful NBA franchise, announced he was assembling an ownership group to apply for a Major League Baseball expansion team. This was after a great deal of lobbying by the Maricopa County Sports Authority, a local group formed to preserve Cactus League spring training in Arizona and eventually secure a Major League franchise for the state. This group was headed at the time by sports attorney Joe Garagiola, Jr. (Garagiola would go on to become the team's first general manager). Maricopa County superviors Jim Bruner and Mary Rose Wilcox were also key proponents of baseball in Phoenix, aligning themselves with Garagiola's group. A firestorm of local controversy was the result. Many area residents did not want public tax money used for a sports team. However, just as many residents felt that by the early 1990s, Phoenix (for decades one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States) had finally "arrived" as a major American city and deserved a Major League Baseball team.

All this was after a previous attempt was mounted by Martin Stone, owner of the Phoenix Firebirds, the city's Triple-A minor league baseball team and an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. In the late 1980s Stone approached St. Louis (football) Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill about sharing a proposed 70,000 seat domed stadium in Phoenix; Bidwill, with plans already in the works to leave St. Louis, opted instead to sign a long term lease with Arizona State University to use its Sun Devil Stadium as the home of his soon-to-be Arizona based NFL franchise, thus ending Stone's bid.

Colangelo was also strongly encouraged in the baseball bid by one of his friends, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, and media reports say that Commissioner of Baseball and Milwaukee Brewers founder Bud Selig was a strong supporter of Colangelo's bid. [1]

Colangelo's group was ultimately successful. On March 9, 1995, the city of Phoenix was awarded the Arizona Diamondbacks franchise for play beginning in the 1998 season, along with plans for a new retractable-roof ballpark, Bank One Ballpark (renamed in 2005 to Chase Field) to be built in an industrial/warehouse district on the southeast edge of downtown Phoenix. A $130 million franchise fee was paid to Major League Baseball.

The name "Diamondbacks" was the winning choice in a name-the-team contest sponsored by Colangelo's group, which took out a full page ad promoting the contest in the sports section of the February 13, 1995 edition of the Arizona Republic. (The group was known as "Arizona Baseball, Inc." and seemed reasonably confident that a franchise would be awarded.) First prize was a pair of lifetime season tickets awarded to the person who submitted the winning entry.

According to the original press release from Colangelo's group (which remained posted on the team website during the first few seasons) the chosen team colors were Arizona turquoise, copper, black and purple. "...Turquoise was chosen because the greenish-blue stone is indigenous to Arizona, copper because Arizona is one the nation's top copper-producing states and purple because it has become a favorite color for Arizona sports fans, thanks to the success of the National Basketball Association's Phoenix Suns." [2]

As noted above, there was some controversy over public financing of a new stadium, but in the spring of 1994, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved a quarter-cent increase in the county sales tax to pay for their portion of the stadium funding.

The Diamondbacks replaced the Firebirds, as that team was obligated to leave Phoenix soon after the Diamondbacks announcement. It remains the Giants AAA affiliate, but after the 1997 season, relocated to Fresno, California and was renamed the Fresno Grizzlies.

There was some talk (which actually persisted for a few years after the awarding of the franchise) about the Diamondbacks being placed in the American League West Division, and Colangelo expressed strong and vocal disagreement with that, pushing baseball officials to allow the new team to play in the National League. Colangelo cited the relative close proximity of Phoenix to the other NL West cities; the similarities between the two fast-growing cities of Phoenix and Denver (home to the Colorado Rockies); the long history of Arizona tourism to San Diego; the Giants' 30-plus years of supporting a minor league team in the Phoenix area; and the fact that Dodgers games were broadcast in the Phoenix and Tucson market for many years. [3]

From the beginning, Colangelo wanted to market the Diamondbacks to a statewide fan base and not limit fan appeal to Phoenix and its suburbs. Tucson, Arizona's second largest city, located about a 90-minute drive southeast of Phoenix, was selected as the home for Diamondbacks spring training as well as the team's top minor league affiliate. Radio and television broadcast deals were struck with affiliates in Tucson, Flagstaff, Prescott, and Las Vegas, Nevada, among others. A series of team-sponsored fan motorcoach trips from Tucson to the D-Backs stadium were inaugurated for the opening season and are still in operation to this day.

Two seasons before their first opening day, Colangelo hired Buck Showalter, the American League Manager of the Year in 1994 with the New York Yankees.

Their lower level minor league teams began play in 1997; the expansion draft was held that year as well.

Early success and a World Series championship[]

The Diamondbacks' first major league game was played against the Colorado Rockies on March 31, 1998, at Chase Field (then known as Bank One Ballpark later nicknamed "The BOB"). The Rockies won, 9-2, with Andy Benes on the mound for the Diamondbacks, and Travis Lee being the first player to hit, score, homer and drive in a run. Over 50,000 fans were in attendance.

In their first five seasons of existence, the Diamondbacks won three division titles (1999, 2001, & 2002) and one World Series. In 1999, Arizona won over 100 games in only its second season to win the National League West division. They lost to the New York Mets in the first round of playoffs.

Colangelo fired Showalter after a relatively disappointing 2000 season, and replaced him with Bob Brenly, the former Giants catcher and coach, who had up to that point been working as a color analyst on Diamondbacks television broadcasts.

In 2001, the team was led by two of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball: Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. Arizona had postseason victories over the St. Louis Cardinals (3-2 in the NLDS) and the Atlanta Braves (4-1 in the NLCS) to advance to the World Series where, in one of the most exciting series ever, they beat the reigning champions, the New York Yankees, 4 to 3, to become the youngest expansion franchise to win the championship (in just their fourth season of play). That classic World Series is chronicled in Charles Euchner's book The Last Nine Innings (Sourcebooks, 2006). The series was also seen as the beginning of the end of the Yankees' stranglehold on baseball glory, as profiled in Buster Olney's book The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty.

An estimated orderly crowd of over 300,000 celebrated at the Diamondbacks victory parade, held at Bank One Ballpark and the surrounding downtown Phoenix streets on November 7, 2001. This was the first major professional sports championship for the state of Arizona and the first for a team (in the four major North American professional sports leagues) owned or controlled by Colangelo, whose basketball Suns made it to the NBA Finals in 1976 and 1993 but lost both times. (Colangelo's Arizona Rattlers won the Arena Football League championship in 1994 and 1997.)

For a detailed look at the 2001 series please see 2001 World Series.

Tough times and the end of the Colangelo era[]

By the 2004 season, however, the Diamondbacks had dropped to a dismal 51-111 record, the worst in Major League Baseball that year, despite Johnson pitching a perfect game on May 18 of that season. Brenly was fired partway through the season and was replaced on an interim basis by coach Al Pedrique.

By this time Colangelo and the other partners were embroiled in a dispute over the financial health and direction of the Diamondbacks (and notably including over $150 million dollars in deferred compensation to many players who were key members of the 2001 World Series winning team and others). He resigned his managing general partner post in the late summer of 2004.

Colangelo sold his controlling interest in the General Partnership of the Diamondbacks to a group of investors who were all involved as partners in the founding of the team in 1995. The investors include equal partners Ken Kendrick, Dale Jensen, Mike Chipman, and Jeffrey Royer. Jeff Moorad, a former sports agent, was subsequently named CEO of the team, joined the partnership, and became its primary public face. Ken Kendrick became the managing general partner.

Colangelo was sharply criticized for plunging the team into over $150 million in debt to secure the services of expensive veterans in order to be a competitive team quickly. In a 2004 interview with columnist Hal Bodley of USA TODAY, Colangelo defended his actions:

I understand where some people felt I wasn't doing it appropriately. The only analogy I can use is that Tampa Bay (the other '98 expansion team) went one direction and where did they end up? (Six last-place finishes and low attendance)...We went another direction to establish a fan base because our investment was much larger than Tampa Bay's. And we put so much money into our own stadium ($130 million). After the first year and the decrease in season tickets, I was convinced we had to build a fan base...We won three division titles, a World Series and established a fan base...
...I believe what we did will last a long, long time...Right or wrong, a number of teams today are in the $50 million payroll range and competitive — Oakland, Minnesota, Texas are examples. Our goal was to get returns from our farm system. We built into our cash-flow that we would be paying out the deferments and that our payroll could drop to $50 million for a few years...A few things hurt us...The economy was bad, and I was hoping for more national money (from baseball's central fund) coming in. [4]

Also a factor in Colangelo's leaving his post was his advancing age: Colangelo was 64 years of age in 2004, and had he not sold his sports franchises, upon his death, his family would have been faced with having to pay high estate taxes based on the value of the Diamondbacks as well as the Suns (which he sold to Robert Sarver in the spring of 2004). [5]

Following the 2004 season, the Diamondbacks also hired Wally Backman to be the team's manager. Backman was formerly manager of the Class A California League Lancaster JetHawks, one of the Diamondbacks' minor-league affiliates. Backman was fired after management learned of legal troubles and improprieties in Backman's past, and former Seattle Mariners manager and Giants catcher Bob Melvin became the new manager after a ten-day tenure for Backman.

Following the Backman incident, the Diamondbacks spent heavily on free agents in order to build a contender. The club signed 3B Troy Glaus, P Russ Ortiz, SS Royce Clayton, and 2B Craig Counsell, among others. Then, they traded Randy Johnson to the Yankees, while acquiring Javier Vazquez, Brad Halsey and Shawn Green in a three-team trade that included the Dodgers, and sent Shea Hillenbrand to the Blue Jays. Finally, they traded Casey Fossum to the Devil Rays for José Cruz, Jr..

The Diamondbacks, led by Melvin, finished the 2005 season with a disappointing record of 77 wins and 85 losses. However, this was a 26-game improvement over 2004, and actually good enough for second place in the woefully weak NL West, five games behind the San Diego Padres.

The Diamondbacks were considered by some to be the favorite to win the division after spending big money on the aforementioned free agents; however, injuries hurt the team's chances of reaching its expected potential.

Starting pitcher Ortiz was out for some time which really hurt the pitching staff. Glaus played with a hurt knee all season. Of all the free agents that signed before the season, no one had a better season than first baseman Tony Clark. Clark started the season as a bench player and ended the season starting and being an important part of the team. Clark was rewarded with a new contract at the end of the season.

In October 2005 the Diamondbacks hired 35 year old Josh Byrnes to replace the out-going Joe Garagiola, Jr. as General Manager. Garagiola took a position in Major League Baseball's main offices in New York City.

New Image for 2007: Goodbye Purple[]

The Diamondbacks announced in early September that their uniforms, which remained largely unchanged since the team's first season, will be completely redesigned for the 2007 season. [6] Details were supposed to be kept secret until after the 2006 postseason as per MLB rules, but the Diamondback page from the 2007 MLB Official Style Guide was somehow leaked around September 25, and local media broadcast and printed the new design for all to see. Reaction to the new color scheme, which includes dropping the longtime purple color for a supposedly more Southwestern reddish color, has been mixed, with an equal amount of fans embracing as well as rejecting the new scheme. [7] The distinctive "A" design will remain largely unchanged save for the colors. The stylized snake-like "D" logo, also used since the early days for the road uniforms, has been slightly redesigned and a completely new shoulder patch has been introduced. The lettering on the jerseys has been completely redesigned.

Quick facts[]

Uniform colors: Purple, Teal, and Black
Logo design: an "A" with one leg of the "A" alternating triangles to suggest a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. An alternate logo is a script "D" in the shape of a snake.
General Manager Josh Byrnes

Retired Numbers[]

Current roster[]

Minor league affiliations[]

2021 Reorganization (Professional Development League)[]

See also[]

  • Diamondbacks award winners and league leaders
  • Diamondbacks statistical records and milestone achievements
  • Diamondbacks players of note
  • Diamondbacks broadcasters and media
  • Diamondbacks managers and ownership

External links[]

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