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D-backs lend hand with ticket program

D-backs lend hand with ticket program

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PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks are in the business of selling tickets, but each year it is the ones that they give away that leave the biggest smile on Derrick Hall's face.

The D-backs team president has spearheaded the club's Season Ticket Scholarship Program, which grants full season tickets, including parking, and in some cases food vouchers, for fans that can no longer afford their tickets.

Last season, seven families were given grants, including one couple that had been season-ticket holders at Chase Field since the club's first season in 1998. Another man, who was physically impaired after being a victim of the Valley's Serial Shooter, was given tickets for his brother and cousin to go along with him to games.

"It truly made a difference in people's lives," Hall said of the first-of-its-kind program, which is starting to draw interest from other professional sports teams. "The most rewarding thing was being able to call the people right around the holidays and let them know that they had been awarded tickets."

Fans in financial need can fill out an online application. This year's deadline is noon MT on Dec. 8. With the recent economic downturn, the club expects to receive more applications this year.

"We're hoping to help a lot more this year," Hall said. "We're going to have season-ticket holders that can no longer afford to be and we're going to have fans who would like to be season-ticket holders but can't afford to be. As long as we have the inventory, we'll help as much as we can. It just makes too much sense. We should try and help those that cannot afford them. We want them to have the ability to enjoy a game in person as well."

The ticket scholarship program is just one of the ways the D-backs made a difference in the community in 2008. The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation focuses its efforts on three main areas of need: homelessness, indigent health care and children's programs of all types, including education and youth baseball field development.

The following are some of the foundation's programs:

Evening on the Diamond
Now in its third year, Evening on the Diamond raised more than $3 million combined in 2007 and 2008 for the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, which featured entertainment from national recording artists Kenny Loggins and George Benson performing with members of the Phoenix Symphony.

The headline performer in the 2009 event on April 2 will be comedy legend Bill Cosby.

The Evening on the Diamond includes a cocktail party and dinner on the Chase Field diamond attended by many of the Valley's philanthropists and corporations. Members of the D-backs' team and coaching staff sit with guests at selected tables.

D-backs License Plates
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano made the D-backs' license plate program possible after signing House Bill 2727 on Aug. 11, 2006. Senate President Ken Bennett also participated in making the program possible, which became law on Sept. 21, 2006. The license plates hit the streets in spring 2007.

"Diamonds Back" Field Building Program
The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation's cornerstone of giving is the "Diamonds Back" Field Building Program. The fields are built through the aid of corporate partners APS and Summit Builders, local businesses, funds from the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation and monetary donations from individual players and owners.

Fields include a backstop, full fencing, dugouts, bleachers, bullpens, irrigation, fully turfed playing surfaces, warning tracks, electric scoreboards, scorer's tables, storage units and lighting systems.

One of the more unique and notable fields constructed by the program is the $3.7 million four-field Diamondbacks Youth Complex at the Reach 11 sports complex in North Phoenix, which was dedicated in 2007. The complex includes two adaptive fields and two Little League fields for youth experiencing a disability and able-bodied children to play and learn baseball side-by-side. The Reach League, comprised of several teams filled with disabled youths aged 6-16, began play on the adaptive fields, made with a synthetic surface called Tot Turf, immediately after they opened in fall 2007.

Doug Davis Field in Camp Verde, Ariz., was the 28th youth field either constructed or refurbished by the field-building program in Arizona since 2000.

Grand Slam Awards and Program Grants
Established in 2002, the Grand Slam Award is designed to make a considerable impact on community organizations by providing a grant of $100,000. In addition to the Grand Slam Award, the D-backs Foundation contributes more than $250,000 annually to support community programs throughout Arizona with grants awarded in amounts of $1,000 to $5,000.

Season Ticket Scholarship Program
Prior to the 2008 season, the D-backs introduced a first-of-its-kind season-ticket scholarship plan for fans or existing season-ticket holders who may have experienced a change in personal circumstances or who could demonstrate financial need. Seven individuals or families whose nominations were approved by the D-backs were given full season tickets on the lower level at Chase Field for the 2008 season.

Hometown Tour presented by APS
Every year, D-backs players, coaches and staff head north, south, east and west to visit the cities and small towns that make up the Arizona fan base on the D-backs Hometown Tour presented by APS. Stops include visits to schools and hospitals, along with autograph signings and appearances on D-backs radio affiliates.

Military Appreciation Day
The D-backs honored past and present members of the armed forces when they hosted Military Appreciation Day. A number of military groups and personnel participated in pregame ceremonies and were recognized throughout the game.

Mystery Ball Fundraiser
On Aug. 9, 2008, the D-backs hosted their first Mystery Ball Fundraiser, and after its enormous success, they will host another in 2009. Fans can purchase a grab bag with a concealed, signed baseball inside it. The balls were signed by current D-backs stars such as Brandon Webb, past D-backs greats such as Mark Grace and Matt Williams, and stars from other teams, such as Chipper Jones of the Braves and Ryan Howard of the Phillies.

Native American Recognition Day, Native American Inter-Tribal Tournament and NABI Baseball Tournament
The first Native American Baseball Invitational was held July 5-9, 2008, in Phoenix, partnering with the 10th annual Arizona Diamondbacks Inter-Tribal Youth Baseball Tournament.

United Way campaign
Every year, D-backs employees look forward to participating in the team's United Way campaign. Through various fundraising efforts, the D-backs are able to give back to one of the most far-reaching community organizations in America.

Winter Classic
The D-backs have been hosting the Winter Classic for underprivileged children at Chase Field since the team's inception in 1998. Beginning in 2005, though, the team decided to do even more for the participating children. For the past three years, D-backs employees have provided new pairs of athletic shoes for the holidays at the event.

Each youngster has the opportunity for a picture with Santa Claus and a D-backs player and to receive a toy. At the food station, the kids get to sample ballpark fare and eat at picnic tables. At the music station, they have the chance to expend some energy by participating in a variety of upbeat dances emceed by a DJ. At the shoe station, each child receives a new pair of shoes and has an opportunity to talk to and receive autographs from D-backs players and coaches.

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

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