09/06/11 10:00 AM ET
D-backs to hold reunion for 2001 title team
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
"It's a great bunch of guys," said Luis Gonzalez, the hero of that Fall Classic. "If you're a fly on the wall and you see the reaction when the guys that played on that team get together, it's like we never missed a beat."
Gonzalez, Matt Williams, Jay Bell, Mark Grace, Reggie Sanders, Steve Finley, Greg Colbrunn and Greg Swindell are among the members of that team who gather each year at the D-backs Fantasy Camp, so they are in regular contact.
This weekend, though, will include a large portion of the team that won the National League West before beating the Yankees in a memorable Game 7 of the World Series.
"It's going to be enjoyable to see them," Bell said. "I've seen a lot of them. I've probably stayed in contact with half of them. You couldn't have picked a better group of teammates."
In all, 32 players are expected to attend the weekend celebration, ranging from well-known names like Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling to outfielder Midre Cummings and right-handed pitcher Robert Ellis.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the guys that I haven't seen in a while -- Robert Ellis, Bret Prinz, Midre Cummings and Mike Koplove," Gonzalez said. "Everybody was just as important, and we knew that, and we treated everyone the same. That's what made that team so special."
The reunion is not limited to just players.
Bob Brenly, the manager of that team, will be there, as will former general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. and former team president Rich Dozer.
And the man who brought Major League Baseball to Arizona, former managing general partner Jerry Colangelo, will be on hand to throw out one of the ceremonial first pitches.
"I'm psyched," said Brenly, who managed the D-backs from 2001-04. "Some of these guys, I haven't seen since I left Arizona. That was a special time and a special team, and I don't think anybody's ever going to see a unit like that again."
World Championship Reunion Weekend, presented by Gila River Casinos, gets under way Friday night, when the current D-backs will don the same jerseys the 2001 team wore during the World Series as they take on the San Diego Padres, beginning at 6:40 p.m. MST.
Following the game, there will be a fireworks display featuring the at-bat walk-up music from members of the 2001 team.
On Saturday, the first 25,000 fans in attendance for the 5:10 p.m. game will receive World Series championship replica rings.
Members of the 2001 team will be introduced during an on-field reunion ceremony beginning at 4:30 p.m., and the club will open the gates to Chase Field at 2:30 p.m. to allow fans enough time to get to their seats prior to the ceremony.
"I think the reunion is coming at a perfect time," D-backs team president and CEO Derrick Hall said. "This team is playing well. The fan base is coming back, they feel good about this organization. This will really connect the two decades, and to see the overwhelming response from former players, coaches, broadcasters, trainers who want to be here, says a lot about where the organization is now that they would want to be present and associated with us and celebrate as a group.
"Really, what this will do for our current team is send a message that's something to aspire to. So I think our young players need to see these players celebrate once again on the field as one."
It is something no doubt plenty of D-backs fans would like to see one more time as well.
The World Championship Reunion Weekend will conclude Sunday when the D-backs pay tribute with a "9/11 Salute to Our Everyday Heroes" on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
The first 15,000 fans in attendance for the 1:10 p.m. game will receive a patriotic D-backs stars and stripes T-shirt.
For a full list of the players, coaches and executives scheduled to attend or to purchase tickets, please visit dbacks.com/reunion.