Arizona Diamondbacks 25th anniversary
May 30, 2023
It is the 25th anniversary of opening season for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Rich Dozer, the past president, joined Arizona Horizon to discuss how the team came to be in Arizona, the World Series win and other fond memories. He is joined by Joe Garagiola, Jr., former General Manager for the D’backs from 1997 to 2005 including the Series. Garagiola is now the Senior Director of Special Projects for the Diamondbacks.
When asked about the team’s anniversary, Garagiola said, “It’s like everything in life. Sometimes it does. Other times, probably because so many of the memories I have are still so clear. Wow, how can it be 25 years.” Garagiola and Dozer began assembling the staff to start the franchise back in 1995. Dozer said getting Chase Field was a monumental task in itself since there was a tight deadline to have it completed.
“It was three years of craziness. We had to get the ballpark built. We didn’t have three days extra. We had to have it built on that day,” Dozer said.
Garagiola approached Jerry Colangelo, who owned the Phoenix Suns basketball team at the time, about starting a baseball team in Arizona. Garagiola said he cold-called Colangelo and told him, “You’re the guy that can do it.” According to Garagiola, Colangelo was busy with the Suns after nearly winning a championship title. Garagiola later learned that Colangelo attended a baseball game at night while in Chicago, and he thought that baseball was something Phoenix was missing.
Dozer attended the same game with Colangelo that night, and on the flight back to Phoenix, Colangelo said he had two reasons to bring baseball to Phoenix. According to Dozer, Colangelo said, “You’re not a major league city unless you have major league baseball. And let’s do it for our grandkids.”
At the time, the ballpark was the first stadium built in the world to have a retractable dome that opened in 4.5 minutes, air conditioning and all-natural grass. The Arizona Diamondbacks would become an expansion team in 1998 and would go on to win the World Series in 2001. It was an amazing feat for a new baseball franchise.
“We won the World Series in four years. We have a couple claims to fame. That’s the fastest ever in Major League Baseball. We had 35,000 season ticket holders that first year. No one has ever even gotten close to that in the history of baseball in any year,” Dozer said.