With two young fans accompanying Jerry Colangelo to the mound to throw out the first pitches, the Diamondbacks brought major league baseball to Arizona on March 31, a little more than three years after Colangelo and his partners were granted an NL franchise.
Even with the offseason acquisition of proven veterans Matt Williams, Jay Bell, Devon White, Andy Benes and Willie Blair to juice up a roster otherwise gleaned from the expansion draft, the Diamondbacks had the type of season that could have been expected from a startup franchise — a lot of players, a lot of lineups and a lot of scuffling.
All with a lot of heart.
The fledgling D-Backs started in a slump, winning only eight of their first 39 games before snapping out of it in mid-May when Jeff Suppan, Blair and Omar Daal won their first games of the season in the span of five days.
The D-Backs were a respectable 57-66 over the final 4½ months to finish 65-97, the fourth-best record of any of the 12 expansion teams since the leagues began adding teams in 1961. Their seven-game winning streak in late August/early September tied a record for an expansion team.
All-Star center fielder Devon White became a “20-20” player with 22 home runs and 22 stolen bases. Mark Grace became the first player to homer into the swimming pool … of course, he was with the Cubs at the time.