The Arizona Diamondbacks (also referred to as the D-backs) are a professional baseball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. They play in the West Division of Major League Baseball's National League. From 1998 to the present, they have played in Chase Field (formerly Bank One Ballpark).
The first serious attempt to land an expansion team for the Phoenix area was mounted by Elyse Doherty and 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. It was taken for granted that a domed stadium was essential for a prospective baseball team to be a viable enterprise in the city. Phoenix is by far the hottest major city in North America; the average high temperature during baseball's regular season is 99.1 °F, and temperatures above 120 °F in July and August are not unheard of.
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. Since baseball-only stadiums were not seen as fiscally viable during that era, this effectively ended Stone's bid.
In the fall of 1993, Jerry Colangelo, majority owner of the Phoenix Suns, the area's wildly popular and successful NBA franchise, announced he was assembling an ownership group, "Arizona Baseball, Inc.," 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.
Colangelo's group was so certain that they would be awarded a franchise that they held a name-the-team contest for it; they took out a full-page ad in the sports section of the February 13 1995 edition of the state's leading newspaper, the Arizona Republic. First prize was a pair of lifetime season tickets awarded to the person who submitted the winning entry. The winning choice was "Diamondbacks," after the Western diamondback, a rattlesnake native to the region known for injecting a large amount of venom when it strikes.
Colangelo's bid received strong support from one of his friends, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, and media reports say that then-acting Commissioner of Baseball and Milwaukee Brewers founder Bud Selig was also a strong supporter of Colangelo's bid.Plans were also made for a new retractable-roof ballpark, Bank One Ballpark, nicknamed the BOB, (renamed in 2005 to Chase Field) to be built in an industrial/warehouse district on the southeast edge of downtown Phoenix, across the street from the Suns' America West Arena (now US Airways Center).
On March 9, 1995, Colangelo's group was awarded a franchise to begin play for the 1998 season. A $130 million franchise fee was paid to Major League Baseball. The Tampa Bay Area was also granted a franchise, the Devil Rays (to be based in St. Petersburg), at the same time.
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."
In the earliest days, the Diamondbacks operated basically as a subsidiary of the Suns; several executives and managers with the Suns and America West Arena were brought over to the Diamondbacks in similar roles.
Tucson, Arizona's second largest city, located about a 90-minute drive southeast of (and a sometimes less-than-friendly rival to) Phoenix, was selected as the home for Diamondbacks spring training as well as the team's top minor league affiliate, the Tucson Sidewinders. Radio and television broadcast deals were struck with affiliates in Tucson, Flagstaff, Prescott, and Las Vegas; among others.
A series of team-sponsored fan motorcoach trips from Tucson to Bank One Ballpark were inaugurated for the opening season and are still in operation to this day (it is now known as the "Diamond Express"). The Diamondbacks are also known for the "Hometown Tour", held in January, where selected players, management and broadcasters make public appearances, hold autograph signings, etc., in various locations around Phoenix and Tucson, as well as many small and mid-sized towns in other areas of Arizona.
Their lower level minor league teams began play in 1997; the expansion draft was held that year as well.
In their first five seasons of existence, the Diamondbacks won three division titles (1999, 2001, & 2002) and one World Series (2001). In 1999, Arizona won 100 games in only its second season to win the National League West. They lost to the New York Mets in four games in the NLDS.
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, in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York City, they beat the reigning champions, the New York Yankees, 4 to 3, to become the youngest expansion franchise to win the World Series (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.) Colangelo’s willingness to go into debt and acquire players through free agency would ultimately lead to one of the quickest free falls in major sports history when in just three years, the Diamondbacks would record one of the worst losing records in all of major league baseball by losing 111 games.
The team won the NL West Division Title again in 2002, but were swept out in the NLDS by the St. Louis Cardinals.
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 was forced to resign his managing general partner post in the late summer of 2004.
Colangelo sold his 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, joined the partnership, and was named the team's CEO; becoming 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 field 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 bought 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.
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).
Following the 2004 season, the Diamondbacks 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 Diamondbacks bench coach 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 re-build into a contender. The club signed 3B Troy Glaus, P Russ Ortiz, SS Royce Clayton, and 2B Craig Counsell, among others. They then traded Randy Johnson to the New York Yankees, for Javier Vazquez, Dioner Navarro, and Brad Halsey. They then turned around and dealt newly acquired catcher Dioner Navarro to the Dodgers for Shawn Green, and sent Shea Hillenbrand to the Toronto Blue Jays. Finally, they traded Casey Fossum to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for José Cruz, Jr.
The Diamondbacks, led by Melvin, finished the 2005 season with a 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, assistant general manager of the Boston Red Sox, to replace the out-going Joe Garagiola, Jr. as Diamondbacks General Manager. Garagiola took a position in Major League Baseball's main offices in New York City.
In preparation for the next season, the Diamondbacks made several significant trades during the offseason. The Diamondbacks and Brewers made a trade on November 25, 2006. Johnny Estrada, Greg Aquino, and Claudio Vargas were dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers for Doug Davis, Dana Eveland, and Dave Krynzel. On Sunday January 7, it was announced that Randy Johnson would return to the Diamondbacks on a two year contract, pending a physical. He was obtained from the Yankees in exchange for Luis Vizcaino, Ross Ohlendorf, Alberto Gonzalez and Steven Jackson. The Yankees will pay $2 million of Johnson's $26 million salary. The Diamondbacks and Florida Marlins made a deal March 26 to acquire RHP Yusmeiro Petit in exchange for Jorge Julio and cash.
While some fans applauded the redesign, most of the reaction to the new color scheme, which included the changing of the historical purple and traditional Arizonan colors of copper and turquoise to a reddish color known as "Sedona Red" similar to that of the Phoenix Coyotes and Arizona Cardinals color schemes, was pointedly negative.
Many fans went so far as to call the 2007 D-backs a new and completely different team, calling the 2007 season a "re-inaugural year"; some fans in Tucson had banners reading; "Arizona Diamondbacks 1998-2006 – Arizona D-Backs 2007- " or "Exit Diamondbacks Enter D-Backs" and "Exit Purple Enter Sedona."
The official unveiling of the uniforms came at a charity event on November 8 in nearby Scottsdale, where several of the players modeled the uniforms on a runway, and posed for publicity photos.
The distinctive "A" design remained unchanged save for the colors. The stylized snake-like "D" logo, also used since the early days for the road uniforms, was slightly redesigned and a completely new shoulder patch introduced. The lettering on the jerseys was completely redesigned.
"Sedona Red" became the dominant color scheme used throughout Chase Field and in all marketing and promotional materials for the Diamondback ballclub.
In the 2007 regular season, the Diamondbacks enjoyed a relatively high degree of success with a young team including Brandon Webb, Conor Jackson, Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin, Chad Tracy, Chris Young, Miguel Montero, Mark Reynolds (baseball) (called up from Double-A in May) and Justin Upton (called up from Double-A in August). The Diamondbacks in the regular season posted the best record in the NL with 90 wins and 72 losses. Despite their success, they were actually outscored by a cumulative total of 20 runs in their games.
After taking the first two games at home against the Cubs, in the National League Division Series, they took the series to Wrigley Field, where they completed their sweep, earning their first berth in the National League Championship Series since 2001.
In the NLCS (where, ironically, they faced the Rockies), however, the D-backs' bats – and any sort of luck they had – fell silent. Though the D-backs' pitchers kept it close, they just didn't seem to get any kind of situational hitting. Plays in key situations- Upton's slide in Game 1, Stephen Drew's baserunning mistake and Valverde's 3 walks in a row, including a bases-loaded walk in the 10th in Game 2, Yorvit Torrealba's homer in Game 3, Conor Jackson booting the ball in Game 4, and even into the 8th and 9th innings of the final game, with the D-backs trailing by two, Tony Clark struck out leaving Upton at third base in the 8th, and in the 9th, Chris Young's leadoff double was wasted...the D-backs ran out of momentum against a Colorado team who just couldn't lose and were swept by the Rockies.
The 2007 season overall was a great success, with many of the young players showing their potential and proving that the team would be a force in the National League for years to come.
On December 14, in a blockbuster trade, the Diamondbacks acquired starting RHP Dan Haren from the Oakland Athletics for six players: LHP Brett Anderson, LHP Dana Eveland and LHP Greg Smith; the above-mentioned just-acquired infielder Chris Carter; and outfielders Aaron Cunningham and Carlos Gonzalez. The team also traded relief pitcher Jose Valverde, who led the major leagues in saves in 2007 with 47, to the Houston Astros for reliever Chad Qualls, RHP Juan Gutiérrez and IF/OF Chris Burke. (Valverde was expected to immediately become the Astros' closer.)
Haren was expected to immediately join the Diamondbacks starting rotation which will include Webb and hopefully Randy Johnson if he rehabilitates successfully from his season-ending back injuries (Johnson was acquired from the Yankees in January 2007 and had a strong start to the 2007 season before back problems forced him out in August).
Haren was 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA for Oakland in 2007. This move was expected to make the D-backs favored to win the NL West in 2008 provided the offensive production is good.
After winning the opening game of the season on March 31 on the road against the Cincinnati Reds, the Diamondbacks found themselves with the best record in Major League Baseball, 20-8, by the start of May. At that time, they also led the NL West by 6.5 games. They lost the first series in May against the New York Mets, the first series lost since the opening series against the Reds. The Diamondbacks continued to lead the NL west despite only being 47-48 at the All-Star break.
On July 17, 2008, Tony Clark was traded back to the D-backs from the San Diego Padres for a minor league pitcher, Evan Scribner.
On August 5, Dan Haren signed a four-year, $44.75 million deal with the Diamondbacks worth a guaranteed $41.25 million through 2012 and including a $15.5 million club option for 2013 with a $3.5 million buyout.
Orlando Hudson, one of the more consistent offensive D-backs players in 2008, underwent season-ending surgery on his left wrist August 9 in the wake of a collision with catcher Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves. Hudson is due to become a free agent at the end of the season and speculation is that he will not be re-signed with the Diamondbacks, because he wants money.
LF Eric Byrnes was on the 60-day disabled list from late June, with a torn left hamstring, and was out for the remainder of the season.
On August 11, 2008, Dallas Buck, RHP Micah Owings, and C Wilkin Castillo were traded to the Reds (in last place in the NL Central at the time) in exchange for OF Adam Dunn. Dunn, who was tied for the major league lead with 32 home runs, was expected to provide a significant boost to an offense that has struggled to score runs for most of the season. Dunn seemed quite positive about being traded to a ballclub in first place in its division in August. The move was seen by some fans as a belated attempt by the D-backs to counter the trade by their division rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, for Boston Red Sox power-hitting OF Manny Ramirez on July 31 and also to compensate for the injuries to Hudson and Byrnes, generally considered two of the more "power-hitting" Diamondbacks on a team which has relied heavily on pitching and defense in recent years.
Owings, once considered an excellent pitching prospect for the Diamondbacks, struggled in the 2008 campaign with a 7.09 ERA after April 21.
On August 31, the Diamondbacks acquired former World Series MVP David Eckstein to fill the hole at secondbase which was opened after Orlando Hudson was placed on the disabled list. Eckstein was traded from the Toronto Blue Jays for Minor League pitcher Chad Beck.
They finished the season with a record of 82-80, good for second in the NL West to the Los Angeles Dodgers).
In October 2006, Brennaman left the Diamondbacks to call games with his father for the Reds beginning in 2007, signing a 4-year deal (his FOX duties will remain unchanged).
The English language flagship radio station is KTAR-AM. Greg Schulte is the regular radio play-by-play voice, a 25-year veteran of sports radio in the Phoenix market, also well-known for his previous work on Phoenix Suns, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State University (ASU) broadcasts. In February 2007 he agreed to a contract extension through at least the 2011 season.
Jeff Munn is a backup radio play-by-play announcer; he served as the regular public address announcer at Chase Field in the early days of the franchise. He is well-known to many Phoenix area sports fans, having also served as the public address announcer for the Suns at America West Arena (now US Airways Center) in the 1990s. He is also the play-by-play radio voice for ASU women's basketball.
On November 1, 2006, the team announced that the TV voice of the Milwaukee Brewers since 2002, Daron Sutton, would be hired as the Diamondbacks primary TV play-by-play voice. Sutton was signed to a five-year contract with a team option for three more years. Sutton is considered one of the best of the younger generation of baseball broadcasters. His signature chants include "lets get some runs" when the D-Backs trail in late innings. Sutton's father is Hall of Fame pitcher and current Washington Nationals broadcaster Don Sutton.
Former Diamondback and Chicago Cub Mark Grace and former Major League knuckleball pitcher Tom Candiotti were the Diamondbacks primary color analysts for the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Former Diamondback player (and current Diamondbacks minority owner) Matt Williams also does color commentary on occasion, as does former Cardinals and NBC broadcast legend Joe Garagiola, Sr.., a longtime Phoenix-area resident and father of Joe Garagiola, Jr., the first GM of the Diamondbacks (as head of the Maricopa County Sports Authority in the early 1990s, Garagiola, Jr. was one of the primary people involved in Phoenix obtaining a Major League Baseball franchise).
The Diamondbacks announced in July 2007 that for the 2008 season, all regionally broadcast Diamondback TV games will be shown exclusively on FSN Arizona; and a few could possibly be shown on the national MLB on FOX telecasts. FSN Arizona is currently seen in 2.8 million households in Arizona & New Mexico.
Spanish broadcasts The flagship Spanish language radio station is KSUN AM 1400 with Miguel Quintana and Arthuro Ochoa as the regular announcers. They are sometimes joined by Richard Saenz or Oscar Soria.
Games are also televised in Spanish on KPHE-LP with Oscar Soria and Jerry Romo as the announcers.
|World Series Champions|
| Preceded by:|
New York Yankees
|2001|| Succeeded by :|
|National League Champions|
| Preceded by:|
New York Mets
|2001|| Succeeded by :|
San Francisco Giants
|National League Western Division Champions|
| Preceded by:|
San Diego Padres
|2007|| Succeeded by :|
Los Angeles Dodgers
| Preceded by:|
San Francisco Giants
|2001 & 2002|| Succeeded by :|
San Francisco Giants
| Preceded by:|
San Diego Padres
|1999|| Succeeded by:|
San Francisco Giants