Payson Teen Helps 'Run The Show' At Diamondbacks' Game

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An aunt's quick thinking, coupled with the luck of the draw, allowed 13-year-old Whitney Heizer to enjoy an evening most teen-agers can only dream about.


Heizer, an eighth-grader at Rim Country Middle School, was one of 36 wide-eyed youngsters selected to take over Bank One Ball Park Oct. 1 for the "Kids Run the Show Night."


As part of a promotion with Bank One, the lucky youths were randomly chosen to shadow various Diamondbacks employees during the game against the San Diego Padres.


Officials originally intended for the youngsters to represent the metropolitan Phoenix and Tucson area. Heizer was selected, however, because her aunt, who lives in Ahwatukee, picked up the Kids Run The Show application -- completed it -- and turned it in to a Valley-area bank.


A few weeks after the drawing, Heizer received a phone call telling her she was one of those selected from the more than 500 applications submitted.


"That was exciting," she said. "I was really looking forward to it. I never thought I had a chance (to be chosen)."


Her responsibilities Friday evening included working with grounds crew chief Mike Malo.


Prior to traveling to the ballpark, Diamondbacks officials sent orientation materials telling Heizer what her responsibilities would be before and during the game.


She also received a phone call further explaining her duties. She was told to arrive at the ballpark at 3:30 p.m. for registration and a couple of hours of work and then would have the chance to sit back, relax and watch her favorite team play.


The most exciting part of the job, she said, occurred between the third and sixth innings when she and two other youngsters assigned to the crew had to run onto the field to change the bases.


With more than 50,000 people watching, Heizer said she was a bit nervous, but it was a thrill she won't soon forget.


Also during the afternoon, she was able to talk to a few of the Diamondbacks players including second baseman Harley Frias.


"Jay Bell tied to talk to me, too, but I wasn't looking at him and didn't know it," Heizer said.


When the grounds crew wasn't on duty, Heizer sat with her parents, aunt and friend Hillari Hardt in right field front-row seats near the visitor's bull pen.


As part of the promotion, the youngsters were allowed to take home souvenirs of the evening.

Heizer opted for a pro baseball and Turner Ward's bat which he cracked during the course of the game. She was also given a commemorative T-shirt and was allowed to keep the Diamondbacks field pass she wore around her neck.


Other youngsters chosen to participate in Kids Run The Show worked with employees from all levels of the Diamondbacks organization including ticketing, sales, marketing, operations, broadcasting, community affairs, security and camera crew.


Dustin Knoer, a nine-year-old from Scottsdale shadowed team manager Buck Showalter.


Bank One vice president of field marketing Natalie Beck said the evening was "a great outlet for children to express their enthusiasm for the Diamondbacks while learning important lessons on responsibility and team spirit."


Also, she added, "It's a unique opportunity for the kids to get involved with the team and have an exciting and memorable experience."


"There are a variety of positions that are available in sports and baseball, other than being a player," said Scott Brubaker, senior vice president of sales and marketing. "Whether you are working on or off the field, everybody makes a contribution and works together as a team."

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