Parade honors World Series champs

PHOENIX, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- The Arizona Diamondbacks paraded around downtown Phoenix Wednesday, then thanked fans at Bank One Ballpark, made a bold prediction and had parting shots for the New York Yankees.

The Diamondbacks celebrated the first World Series championship in franchise history with a modest parade that started and ended at Bank One Ballpark, where a banner was raised to the rafters in the domed stadium.


In a tribute to those fighting the effects of terrorist attacks in New York, players and family members rode firetrucks through the streets of Phoenix, which attracted thousands of fans.

Once returning to their home ballpark, the Diamondbacks, adorned in black World Series champion T-shirts and purple hats, stood on a stage constructed near second base and thanked fans.

"We're all proud of you for the way you came out in the World Series, stood up to those Yankee fans and showed them what you're made of," said manager Bob Brenly, whose team won the series in seven games.


One of the most exciting World Series in history ended with a bases-loaded, bloop single off the bat of Luis Gonzalez, who slugged 57 home runs during the regular season.

"What an awesome feeling," he said. "We had a great time out here and we were able to celebrate with you, the fans. Because without you, we wouldn't be out here."

The loudest ovation was reserved for Randy Johnson, partly because ace righthander Curt Schilling had left town to join his family on a cruise. Johnson won the final two games of the series, the second in relief.

"Before you can have destiny, you have to have a dream," said Johnson, who shared series Most Valuable Player honors with Schilling.

Even though the Diamondbacks are facing a possible move to the American League as Major League Baseball plans to contract, the Diamondbacks will look to turn the dream to dynasty next season.

Arizona Gov. Jane Hull, who rode with the team in the parade, told the crowd, "it doesn't get any better than this."

Veteran third baseman Matt Williams thought differently.

"With all respect to the governor, it does get better than this, especially if we win another one," said Williams, whose team became the quickest to a World Series, needing only four years.


Appropriately, Jay Bell scored the series-clinching run Sunday in the ninth inning. Bell signed with Arizona on the day of the expansion draft in 1997.

Bell also thanked thousands of fans, then spoke of the supposed ghosts haunting opponents at Yankee Stadium. That is where the Yankees won Games 4 and 5 after hitting two-out, two-run homers in the ninth inning of both contests.

"I ain't afraid of no ghosts," Bell said as Bank One broke out with the theme song from the 1980s movie "Ghostbusters."

The Yankees hit both dramatic homers off Korean reliever Byung-Hyun Kim, known as "BK" by teammates, further intensifying the claim that some kind of mystique or aura exists in the Bronx.

Arizona first baseman Mark Grace, who had three hits in Game 7, including a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth off Mariano Rivera, thought otherwise.

"Well, well, well. My goodness. Mystique and aura. Yep, that's what we heard all through the series," he said. "Well, guess what. After those three games in New York, we'll give them mystique and aura. What do you think, BK?


"However, two words come to mind when I'm thinking about the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks -- trophy and ring."

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