Wide-eyed teenagers from the Rim country had the opportunity Friday to enjoy a tour of one of professional baseball’s most celebrated stadiums.
As part of a field trip that also took the Rim Country Middle School eighth graders to the Arizona Science Center, the teens visited Bank One Ballpark the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After learning about “The science of a curve ball” from an ASC physicist, listening to Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and visiting the science center planetarium, the students made the short walk to BOB. There, Diamondback guides escorted the teens through parts of the stadium not normally seen by ticket holders.
In the lower tiers of the stadium, the students gawked at state-of-the-art locker and training rooms where the players prepare for games.
A video narrated by Arizona manager Bob Brenley detailed a typical game day inside the ballpark.
When told how valets arrive at the park early to lay out each player’s uniform and equipment, including socks and undergarments, some students said they were amazed how pampered professional athletes can be.
Among the most eagerly anticipated stops was the Diamondbacks’ dugout, where the students were afforded spectacular views of the stadium and the roof that was open that day. Sunlight beamed through the roof onto the field that was being readied for the Dec. 26 Insight Bowl.
Prior to entering the dugout from a tunnel-like approach, the students viewed a two-foot long metal bar that hung from above. For onlookers, it seemed an odd place to find what looked like a chin-up bar.
The tour guide explained that the bar is used by Johnson to stretch his ailing back between innings. Because Johnson is 6-foot, 10-inches tall, most of the students couldn’t jump high enough to even touch the bar.
The tour guide also pointed to a rack where a punching bag is hung during the baseball season. It is there, away from the view of fans, that frustrated players take out their aggravations, the guide said.
A five-minute stop at the swimming pool in the outfield generated more than a few questions from the ballpark visitors. Most students wondered how they could get tickets to watch a game from the pool area. When told the price for a single game would be in the thousands of dollars, the questions quickly ceased.
In the basement of the park, the students visited an indoor batting and pitching cage where players warm-up before they exit to the dugout or bullpen.
In the upper reaches of BOB, the students were given a tour of the luxury box suites where well-heeled fans enjoy the games while feasting on catered meals.
When a guide’s two-way radio crackled that Junior was working out in the stadium, visitor’s hopes for a glimpse of Diamondback star Junior Spivey reached a fevered pitch.
To the chagrin of most students, however, Spivey was not spotted.
After more than an hour in the park, students were released to return to the buses and the trip back to Payson.
But before they boarded, most took a few minutes to visit the team shop where they purchased souvenirs and trinkets of their visit to the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.