Guess what pitcher earned the final out of the inaugural Diamondbacks Opening Day?
Yes that Jerry DiPoto, the Seattle Mariners GM and former D-Backs interim GM. Who knew? And that’s the whole point of this new quest I’m on. My goal is to break down EVERY game from the 1998 inaugural, but in a fun way.
I’m 23 years old which means I have zero recollection of the early Diamondbacks and I would imagine a lot of fans are in that same situation. Even if you did get to experience the early Diamondbacks, that 1998 season was 22 years ago and I’m sure your memory of a midsummer game from that season is foggy at best.
So lets dive in, March 31st, 1998….
Before first pitch, the Arizona Diamondbacks had a pregame ceremony that was, well, interesting. I found this video a while back surfing YouTube and if you don’t have 40 minutes to waste or don’t want to skim through it, here are some screen grabs.
Andy Benes got the Opening nod and the first pitch of our beloved Diamondbacks history went for ball 1. Travis Lee had the first hit in D-Backs history in the 1st inning and the first homer in the 6th, which also was the first run. Long live Travis Lee.
The best way to consistently describe games through this season is to have a couple categories. Give this a little structure. If you follow my twitter you know “PLAYERS OF THE GAME” is a must, I also want to mention the “turning point of the game” and what I’m most excited, “random fact of the game”. You’re getting 162 games of those 3 categories minimum, buckle up folks.
After that Travis Lee dinger in the 6th, Andy Benes came back out for the 7th in a 3-1 game. Pitcher Darryl Kile, (RIP and you should check out this very well done article about his life and how awesome of a dude and pitcher was: https://www.bnd.com/sports/mlb/st-louis-cardinals/article226033020.html flew out to start the inning), followed by back to back hits by Lansing and Burks, scoring Lansing (I swear those were real Colorado Rockies). Clint Sodowsky relieved Benes and got lit up by HOF Larry Walker, Bo Bichette’s dad, Vinny Castillo and walked Todd Helton. 3-1 deficit turned into a 8-1 deficit the Diamondbacks could not bounce back from.
Random Fact of the Game
Usually the Jerry DiPoto, the former Diamondbacks interim GM, pitching the final out of the first game ever would easily be here, but I mentioned that already so this a great time to drop the game recap that MLB videos still has on YouTube.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
1st Place: Travis Lee 3-4, first hit, first dinger, first run, 2.250 OPS, franchise leader in everything.
2nd Place: Karim Garcia, the Opening Day RF, hit a solo homer too. That dinger came off Jerry DiPoto with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. Next batter DiPoto got Jorge Fabregas to fly out to left field to end the game. Garcia had just 1 homer in 29 games over 3 years for the Dodgers prior.
3rd Place: Andy Benes, 5 ER and 9 hits (1 walk) isn’t necessarily great, but what we will quickly learn is this: the inaugural Diamondbacks pitching was, oof. Benes did have a quality start if it was 2020 and he got pulled after 6 solid innings.
Opening Day Lineup:
Before we wrap this up, I do need to list the Opening Day lineup. I think the knowledgeable Diamondback fan can name 5 of them, batters 5-8 I did not know before starting this. And if you want to test your Diamondbacks Opening Day lineup knowledge and ultimately be frustrated you missed someone, check this out: https://www.sporcle.com/games/statto/dbacks
The Diamondbacks start their franchise 0-1, and end March 1998 0-1. Tomorrow, the calendar turns to April 1998 and Willie Blair takes the hill.
By Todd Williams (@goldyhappens)
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