D-Back Players Thrill Middle School Students



Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Former Arizona Diamondbacks player Matt Williams scratched his head as he contemplated an answer to the question from an eighth-grade student — “What was your most embarrassing moment while at bat during a game?” His answer: he sneezed when a strike was pitched to him and he was called out by the umpire.


Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Jeremy Novak (left) Austin Young and Nic McMullen celebrate winning the trivia contest during the Arizona Diamondbacks’ visit to Rim Country Middle School. Former star infielder Matt Williams was the team captain.

All hail the Diamondbacks.

That’s what was occurring yesterday, Feb. 5, in Wilson Dome where Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Max Scherzer, former star infielder Matt Williams and broadcaster Jeff Munn visited for a special student assembly.

The atmosphere was festive with cheerleaders dancing at mid-court, peppy music blaring through loud speakers, students squirming in their seats in wild anticipation and science teacher Scott Davidson, wearing a menacing looking Maverick costume head, prowling the sidelines.

Before the rally got off to a rousing start, Scherzer mingled with the pupils answering their every query.

“What position do you play?” one student asked.

“Pitcher,” he replied.

“Have you ever hit a home run?” another asked. “I have, but that’s not what I’m paid to do,” he answered.

The RCMS students permitted to attend the assembly were those who lived up to a school good behavior and achievement code this school year.

The biggest thrill of the day might have been the announcement of the students who were later going to lunch with the Arizona contingent for winning an essay contest entitled, “Why I deserve to go to lunch with the Diamondbacks.”

Luke Manning and Ricci Gamboa won among the sixth-graders, Emme Ashby and Anaiah Blair were seventh-grade winners and Steve Tubbs and Alanan Child were the eighth-grade honorees.

Manning wrote, “I have Diamondback bobbleheads, hats, shirts, backpacks, signed baseballs and a whole bunch of the trading cards. It would make my year if I could just talk to them for five minutes.”

The one hour and 45-minute rally was also highlighted by a variety of games and chances to win prizes and get autographs.

One game involved the students listening to trivia questions about the Diamondbacks and then running to the opposite end of the basketball court to throw a baseball and answer the question.

“Who was the first Diamondbacks player ever selected,” stumped even Scherzer and Williams.

Finally, Munn, who served as master of ceremonies, coughed up the correct answer — Chip Hale. Prizes included 10 baseballs given out to students in sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade. They were autographed after the rally.

Also the students had the chance to play dodgeball against one another and versus the Diamondback players who were required to use their off hand.

The assembly wrapped up with a question-and-answer period and inspirational messages from the Diamondback representatives.

Throughout the rally, probably the most popular attraction for the students was Scherzer, who the Diamondbacks drafted in 2006 as the 11th overall pick.

After a short stint in the minors, he was called up to the D-backs, from Tucson, on April 27, 2008.

Two days later he made his major league debut against the Houston Astros coming on in relief to throw 4-1/3 perfect innings while striking out seven.

The Diamondbacks drafted Scherzer, who is expected to round into an ace pitcher this year.

After the D-backs crew motored out of Payson for other rally stops in Show Low, Miami, Globe and the Gila River Wild Horse Pass Casino, bench coach Kirk Gibson joined them. The statewide rallies are a part of the Arizona Public Service Hometown Tour.


Doug Stagner 7 years, 11 months ago

Regarding “D-back players thrill middle school students” (2/6/09) “Who was the first Diamondbacks player ever selected,” stumped even Scherzer and Williams. Finally, Munn, who served as master of ceremonies, coughed up the correct answer — Chip Hale.” Piqued by that old news, I wondered what had become of Chip Hale. Visiting the baseball-reference Web site, I found his transaction history: June 2, 1987: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 17th round of the 1987 amateur draft. Player signed June 5, 1987. October 4, 1996: Granted Free Agency. October 30, 1996: Signed as a Free Agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers. September 3, 1997: Released by the Los Angeles Dodgers. December 22, 1997: Signed as a Free Agent with the Anaheim Angels. March 30, 1998: Traded by the Anaheim Angels to the St. Louis Cardinals for Craig Shipley. As far as I could tell, he was never connected with the Diamondbacks. The correct answer according to baseball guru Dan Schlossberg is pitcher Brian Anderson from Cleveland in 1997.


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