Milestone for Gonzalez in win

Milestone for Gonzalez in win

PHOENIX -- Luis Gonzalez appeared in the postgame interview room wearing a Diamondbacks undershirt.

The uniform of the once skinny kid from Tampa, Fla., whose Major League dreams at that time were bigger than his body, was on its way to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The jersey will be displayed to commemorate the historic milestone Gonzalez reached on Tuesday night when he collected the 500th double of his career, which made him just the 21st player in Major League history to have at least 300 homers and 500 doubles.

More importantly to the Diamondbacks was the fact that Gonzalez's double was a key part of a five-run outburst in the sixth inning that paved the way to a 7-4 Arizona win in front of 23,255 at Chase Field.

The group Gonzalez joined is made up of 14 Hall of Famers, including Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams and Frank Robinson, and some sure-fire future members like Cal Ripken and Barry Bonds.

"The reason why it's so great is because of the names on the list," veteran shortstop Craig Counsell said. "Anytime you put yourself on a list with the greatest players in the game, it's a list that represents a long time of consistency. It's amazing."

Gonzalez picked up double No. 499 last Wednesday and in the five games after that went 2-for-19. A longtime fan favorite in Arizona, Gonzalez desperately wanted to reach the mark at Chase Field.

"I can't speak enough for our fans," Gonzalez said. "Every day the last three or four days, every time up, they're pulling for me and I know that and I wanted to do it so bad here it at home. You start gripping the bat harder.

"I just felt like everything was mounting up. I just wanted to get it over with."

Gonzalez's wife, Christine, and the couple's 7-year-old triplets attended each of the games on the homestand and made posters to commemorate the event.

"My kids were tired of bringing posters to the game," Gonzalez joked. "They made those about a week ago."

The waiting ended with the D-Backs trailing 3-2 with one out and Chad Tracy at first in the sixth. Gonzalez laced an 0-1 offering from Matt Morris into left-center to score Tracy and tie the game.

As he stood at second and acknowledged the standing ovation, he glanced out to left at Bonds, who Gonzalez said nodded and gave him a clap with his glove.

"It'll sink in probably later on," Gonzalez said. "I've looked at the list a couple of times and I just marveled at some of the guys that are on that list. Just to have your name associated with that ... I mean I was a small kid out of Tampa when I started playing Minor League Baseball and now to see that I'm 16 years playing."

A member of the Diamondbacks since 1999, Gonzalez is in the final year of his contract with the club holding a $10 million option for 2007. How long he will remain in Arizona is unknown, but his legacy as the man who delivered the game-winning hit in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series remains secure.

"Hopefully we realize how great a player he is," Counsell said. "He deserves to be on that list. If we tend to take it for granted that we have a guy that's accomplished incredible things, hopefully tonight puts it in perspective."

Said third baseman Chad Tracy, a teammate of Gonzalez's since 2004, "It's been a pleasure to play with him. It's something that I'll tell my kids someday. That I played a few years with Luis Gonzalez and watched him get to this milestone. I was just as happy as he was, I think."

It's comments like those from Counsell and Tracy that mean the most to Gonzalez.

"I enjoy playing the game," the 38-year-old said. "I love the competitiveness, but when you earn the respect of your teammates and your peers across the field I think that's what means the most to me every time I put the uniform on and go out and play.

"I've always said I don't have all the best skills, but I'm going to go out there and give you everything I've got. There's something to be said for guys that play in the league for a long time. They know how to get the job done."

On Tuesday, Gonzalez did just that.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.