Dellucci reflects on 2001 team

Photo by: Otto Greule Jr.  /Allsport

By Greg Dillard

The sights and sounds brought back fond memories.

As David Dellucci returned to Chase Field for World Championship Reunion weekend, the memories of the magical 2001 season started to come back. The 13-year Major League veteran was an outfielder on the Arizona squad that won it all that season.

“The first thing that comes to my mind is the smell of the grass and the smell of the stadium,” Dellucci said. “It’s triggering all of these memories. We’re here to celebrate the World Series, so I think about inning No. 9 in Game 7 and the way that the fans were yelling and screaming with the white towels and the energy that we felt.”

Dellucci was just one of the many former D-backs who reconvened at the ballpark this past Saturday. The likes of Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams and many more were on hand to take part in the celebration.

“It was nice to see all of the guys,” Dellucci said. “We reminisce about the old times. We have such great chemistry together. We’re joking around like we never missed a beat. But now here we are getting closer and closer to the field. I’m actually standing on the field right now. My heat is starting to pump, and it’s all coming back. We are reliving the memories, and we have a great group of fans here to help us through.”

The 2001 campaign was Dellucci’s fourth in the desert. He batted .276 in 115 games that season while smacking 10 doubles, 10 homers and 40 RBI. He served as an integral aspect of a veteran-filled roster.

From the outset of the season, Dellucci and his teammates set their sights on one, common goal.

“Everything we did was for winning the World Series,” Dellucci said. “As the season went on, it kept getting closer. It was within our grasp. It’s a really awesome feeling when you all come together as a team and you achieve what you’ve set out for.”

That common goal eventually became a reality in early November, but not before a little drama and the rally of a lifetime in the bottom of the ninth. After claiming the first two games of the Fall Classic at home, Arizona hit the road to the Bronx for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the series. The Yankees would win all three in stunning fashion to hold a 3-2 lead and send the series back to Arizona.

That’s when things turned the D-backs’ way.

“We always had a feeling if we came back here for Games 6 and 7,” Dellucci said, “with our fans and with the momentum that we share and how we play in this ballpark, it was our World Series to win.”

Arizona exploded for a 15-2 shellacking in Game 6 before the unforgettable 3-2 win in the seventh and final game. Dellucci was called upon during the bottom of the ninth as a pinch runner. After Mark Grace led off the inning with a single, it was Dellucci who relieved Grace on the base paths.

Although it’s been10 years since the D-backs defeated the Yankees to earn the state’s first major world championship, the fans continue to embrace that 2001 roster.

“They still love the fact that we brought them a world championship,” Dellucci said. “I was here in 1998 when we lost 97 games. We were a new franchise, and not a whole lot of people very were fond of the fact that we were playing baseball in the desert. But we turned it around, and the city got behind us.”

Now 10 years later, Dellucci and the rest of that winning squad is back, and it comes at time when the current D-backs are well on their way to a playoff berth of their own.

“They play the game hard, and that’s what we took pride in,” Dellucci said. “It didn’t matter if we called up a guy from Triple-A or had a new guy come in with a trade. We played one way and that was the Diamondbacks’ way. We policed ourselves to go out there and play right. You don’t see that a whole lot in the game today, but this Diamondbacks team right here, they play an awful lot like we did.”


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