Dec. 3, 2003 04:00 PM
I am confident in how this letter should end, but not real sure where to start. I guess the beginning is as good a place as any.
I came back to Phoenix in the summer of 2000 in a trade that was meant to help bring Arizona its first professional sports World Championship. I can tell you that after those first few starts I thought the season would end in dreamlike fashion. Fast forward a bit and when all was said and done, the 2000 season ended up with me failing miserably. I am sure Diamondbacks fans were wondering just what the heck had happened, and why.
As the 2001 season began to unfold things stared to come into focus. The team was rolling, the city was getting a daily dose of great baseball, and the baseball world was forced to look at this state and this team with a modicum of respect.
Well, we all know what transpired. We won the west and headed to the playoffs. We then won, in what I think was a terribly under appreciated post season series, a 5-game playoff against the Cardinals. Tony Womack delivered the first of two franchise-altering hits in the bottom of the ninth of Game 5. We headed on to Atlanta, and behind RJ's dominant pitching and Craig's MVP clutch hitting, we now found ourselves heading to the World Series.
I would imagine that 10-day period was unforgettable to Diamondbacks fans. It certainly was unforgettable for me, from the camera flashes and flyovers of Game 1 at Bank One, to the President's first pitch and the two gut wrenching game ending rallies in Games 4 and 5. The recognition and patriotism we saw from the men and women of the NYPD, FDNY and US Armed Forces were on display for two weeks. We headed back to Arizona for Games 6 and 7 although I think Diamondbacks fans and Diamondbacks players were the only ones that knew there would be a Game 7 at the time. In Game 6, RJ did his thing, and in Game 7, well, let's just say that Game 7 played out how it was supposed to, you know the ending.
It was important to me to recap these things for one very significant reason. My time here, the accomplishments I was apart of here, all of the things that happened to my family and me while we were here are memorable for one reason, you, the fans. Game 7, had it been played out on a sand lot in front of no one, would have been exciting, memorable, and surreal in it's ending. But the fact of the matter is that I remember game 7 for two reasons. The first one being the moment I stepped on to the baseball field to head down to the bullpen for pre-game warm-ups. At the second, 60,000 plus people stood on their feet and began waiving those purple and white pompoms. Very few people can tell you this because I was one of few folks actually on the field, but you made the field move, literally. As I strolled to the bullpen the ground was shaking. The second unforgettable moment was when all of us, you, me and the people watching on TV around the world, realized that Gonzo's flare was going to drop, we were the World Champions. I won't ever forget that, or the rest of the events that followed.
My career ha seen many milestones, and I hope to see many more ahead. But each on of those milestones is marked by you the fans. Every experience I have had in this game has been memorable for the same reason, you made it something special for me, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
The Diamondbacks are a class organization from top to bottom. I hope you all realize what a class act Mr. Colangelo had been, and always will be. He has treated my family with the utmost respect from my first day here. For that, I am thankful. His goal in life is to win, and to make a difference. Having had the luxury of viewing other men in his position I can honestly say that Phoenix is lucky, and great sports town because of his presence. There are a lot of other things I am thankful for and I'd like to try and touch on them real quick before I say good-bye.
Pitching side by side with the greatest left-handed pitcher in history was a blast, and honor. I know for a fact I wouldn't be the pitcher I am today had I not been a teammate of yours, thanks RJ. Make sure I get a good seat in Cooperstown when you inducted.
Watching Gonzo hit 57 home runs in 2001 on his way to what should have been an MVP season was awesome. Watching Brandon Webb develop into one of the games best pitchers was flat out fun this year. He was, hands down, the Rookie of the Year. Having the opportunity to watch Mark Grace bow out of the game with class and dignity, and to see the fans express their gratitude to him was a pretty cool experience. Thanks Gracie, but you still tell bad jokes too often. To Brandon Lombardi, a 21 year cancer survivor and true inspiration to my family in so many more important areas than the game, thanks. To each and every patient, and family member we have met through the Arizona ALS chapter thank you, you continue to provide inspiration and hope in all of our lives.
Jason Schecterle, carrying the Olympic Torch with you was an honor beyond belief for me. You're a gift to us all. I'll miss you. Dr. Michael Foley and his wife Lisa, Coach Mike McQuaid and his wife Molly, our lives are better for knowing you. To all the kids on the little league team I am coaching, thanks for some of the most enjoyable times I've had here. Please remember to be on time and play hard, I'm proud of every one of you.
Last but certainly not least, to my incredible wife Shonda and our four kids, Gehrig, Gabreilla, Grant and Garrison, my in-laws Dona and Patsy Brewer, thank you. Without your sacrifices, these past few years would not have been successful, or possible. You are my driving force in life. It's time to pack the cars again and move on, but it sure was fun.
So there it is, long winded as usual and so many folks left unmentioned. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for three and a half memorable years, and who know, maybe we'll see each other again next October.
Thanks and God Bless each and every one of you. Curt Schilling