The Arizona Diamondbacks are a Major League Baseball (MLB) team based in Phoenix, Arizona. The team is a member of the National League (NL) and is one of only five teams in the league west of Dallas. Since three of those teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants, and the San Diego Padres are on the California coast and the other is in Denver, the geographical draw of the team is considerable. Fans of the Diamondbacks hail from New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and even portions of western Texas.
The term "memorabilia" is usually associated with the glory years of baseball, and players like Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Cobb, etc. Since the Arizona Diamondbacks franchise wasn’t born until 1998, team memorabilia wasn’t either. Nonetheless, the team has had more success in the short time it has existed than many teams that have been around decades longer. In 2001, only their fourth year of existence, the team won the World Series, beating the New York Yankees 4 games to 3.
This guide will provide some background on the development of the team as well as descriptions of memorabilia associated with prominent players and events. There is also information on the best sources for all types of Arizona Diamondbacks memorabilia, both past and current.
Arizona Diamondbacks History
The region has long been a hotbed for baseball, as all ten current spring training Cactus League teams are located within the greater Phoenix region. Although the Detroit Tigers were the first team to conduct spring training in Arizona in 1929, it wasn’t until Bill Veeck convinced the New York Giants to come to Phoenix and together with his Tucson-based Cleveland Indians inaugurated the Cactus League in 1946.
The phenomenal growth in population of the Phoenix region, from the 99th largest city in the U.S. in 1940 to the 9th largest in 1990, spurred the demand for a major league team. In 1995, a group headed by Jerry Colangelo, who was the primary owner of the Phoenix Suns National Basketball Association franchise, was awarded an MLB franchise that would begin play in 1998. The ballpark that is currently named Chase Field (originally Bank One Ballpark) was built to be the home of the team.
In 2012, Phoenix moved up to the be nation’s 6th largest city. During its brief history, the team has experienced a great deal of fluctuation in success and within only three years went from first to worst, losing 111 games in 2004. Nonetheless, the Diamondbacks logo and memorabilia are much in demand and the market for apparel and souvenirs is as hot as Phoenix in August.
Prominent Diamondbacks Players
Much of the memorabilia associated with a team is specific to the most productive players, coaches, and managers the franchise has employed. It is also tied to defining events such as no-hitters, World Series and playoff appearances, as well as awards.
No team gets to the Major League Baseball World Series without exceptional players and management. Starting pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling carried the team in 2001, winning 43 games between them. Johnson won the Cy Young Award and Schilling was the runner-up in both 2001 and 2002. Johnson also won the Cy Young Award with the Diamondbacks in 1999 and 2000 and is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. Schilling is a strong maybe. Besides Jackie Robinson, whose number has been officially retired by every major league team, Luis Gonzalez is the only Diamondback to have his number 20 retired. During the 1999, 2000, and 2001 seasons his batting averages were .336, .311, and .325. He also had great power with 26, 31, and 57 home runs respectively. Brandon Webb and Dan Haren were two pitchers that also had exceptionally good years with the team. Other top hitters for the franchise include Jay Bell, Junior Spivey and Tony Clark.
There have been six Diamondbacks managers during 13 seasons. They include Buck Showalter, who produced a winning percentage of .514 over the first three years of the franchise’s existence, a feat in itself. Bob Brenly managed the team from 2001 to 2004, including the magical World Series winning season of 2001. Bob Melvin was 2007 National League Manager of the Year, a feat duplicated by Kirk Gibson in 2011.
Types of Arizona Diamondbacks Memorabilia
Even though the history of the team goes back only until 1998, there is an enormous array of memorabilia items available on websites like eBay as well as in local brick and mortar sporting goods and department stores. Diamondbacks memorabilia includes baseball cards, autographed memorabilia, and apparel and souvenirs.
With the ability to aggregate tens of thousands of items into one website, the online option is the direction most shoppers are headed today. For instance, a search for "Arizona Diamondbacks baseball cards" in eBay returns over 4,000 results. A baseball card is the first thing that pops into most people’s minds when they consider buying baseball memorabilia. Not only do they provide that connection to the past, but with a little research and planning they can become considerably more valuable as time goes by.
It is also a good idea to stop by a local card or sports memorabilia shop to learn about the ins and outs of card collecting. Those who operate these stores can provide a vast amount of useful information and have all of the essential tools for collecting such as plastic sleeves to preserve the cards and a good selection of cards themselves. They can look up current card values and can be quite negotiable when it comes to pricing.
A signed baseball card, bat, photo, or any other item takes on an entirely new distinction. Naturally, the value of the item increases substantially. And, once the player or manager who signed the article dies, it takes on even greater value. At that point, the number of legitimately signed items in circulation becomes defined. In simple economic terms, supply can only decrease. The other variable, demand remains in flux. No one much cares when a utility infielder with an unexceptional career passes away. If the player was extraordinary, won numerous prestigious awards, and/or was inducted into the Hall of Fame, the demand will likely increase. At that point, it is reasonable to expect the value of a signed baseball card to begin to steadily increase.
A great example would be Randy Johnson. His most productive years occurred as a Diamondback, even though he played for six teams. Currently, his rookie card is quite available and reasonably priced. Born in 1963, he could easily live until 2050. During that time, he is likely to continue signing cards at sponsored shows. More importantly, he is undoubtedly going to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Savvy collectors will pick up his rookie card, preserve it, and put it away while the value increases.
Authenticating Autographed Memorabilia
At some point, it may be prudent to have the signature authenticated. While the owner of the card may have personally witnessed the signing, that is of little value to future buyers. They want to purchase a verified article with third party approval. The preeminent companies that perform this service include, Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), Beckett Grading Services (BGS), James Spence Authentication (JSA), Global Authentics (GA), and Sportscard Guaranty Corporation (SGC). Look for these abbreviations in any sales information. The value of authentication typically exceeds the cost, even in the short run.
Apparel and Souvenirs
There is an enormous world of Arizona Diamondback clothing, accessories, and just plain, old fun stuff out there. The logo has changed four times since the birth of the franchise, but the distinctive "A" has been consistently rendered throughout. The primary colors changed from turquoise to red in 2008. There are many fans of the original logo that will have nothing to do with anything red, and vice-versa.
The number one fan favorite apparel item has been the baseball cap. There are many variations of color, sizes, and quality available, all with every primary and alternate logo choice as well. They will be difficult to locate in local stores unless the store is in the primary geographical region that the franchise draws its fans. Many stores also have arrangements with specific suppliers making it difficult to compare all the options. The same applies to t - shirts and other clothing articles. There is no limit to the options available when it comes to souvenirs. From spoons, stuffed animals, maps, and tablecloths to jewelry, clocks, and bobbleheads, the sky’s the limit.
Find Arizona Diamondbacks Memorabilia on eBay
The number one source for Diamondbacks memorabilia is eBay. Start at the homepage and click on Collectibles and Art. Under the "Browse By" column choose Sports Mem, Cards and Fan Shop. Other categories such as Fan Apparel and Souvenirs, Cards, Vintage Sports Memorabilia, and Game Used Memorabilia will be available. Then, just select "Baseball" and "Arizona" to see all the memorabilia that is available.
If you know exactly the item you want, it is often easier just to use the search tool located at the top of every eBay page. As an example, try entering "Arizona Diamondbacks photos" into the search bar on the home page. You will be directed to a page with hundreds of choices. eBay ’ s Search Tips offer some handy hints on search strategies. Remember to begin all searches from the home page if you want to see every possible listing.
Take a little time to learn about the seller. All of the best eBay sellers are proud to display the "Top Rated Seller" ribbon. There is usually a lot of feedback from previous buyers that may help with your decision. It’s easy to get in touch with sellers directly for additional information about any item. Just click "Contact Member" in their profile. They can answer all questions about your article of interest. If a particular item if offered for bid, you can often end up getting it for less than the listed price.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a short, but exciting history. The team has been to the pinnacle of baseball success and they have felt the futility of utter failure. The fan base is extremely loyal and the future is bright. The entire state of Arizona has fully embraced the team and connects strongly with the players. Diamondback memorabilia is a great way to demonstrate allegiance to the team, and to provide friends and family with gifts that create memories.