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D-backs enjoy day at the races in Sydney

D-backs enjoy day at the races in Sydney

D-backs enjoy day at the races in Sydney

SYDNEY -- When the D-backs were planning their promotional trip to Sydney, they quickly learned that they would be visiting during one of the city's busiest sporting weeks of the year. The Melbourne Cup -- also known as the "race that stops a nation" -- took place on Tuesday, and rather than steer clear of the event, the D-backs tried to use it to their advantage.

And so it was that National League MVP finalist Paul Goldschmidt, president and CEO Derrick Hall and Craig Shipley, special assistant to the GM, found themselves at Royal Randwick Racecourse, being interviewed on the video board and presenting the sash to the owner of the horse that won Race 6, which was named for the franchise.

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"This is honestly about as once-in-a-lifetime as you can get," said Goldschmidt, surrounded by thousands of Australians sporting attire and headwear similar to that seen at the Kentucky Derby. "I can't believe how cool it is to be here and how great this city is."

The Arizona Diamondbacks Handicap was just one tactic employed by the local promoter, Moore Sports, to let fans in this country know about the two-game Opening Series between the D-backs and Dodgers on March 22-23, 2014.

Goldschmidt was approached at the racetrack by a D-backs fan who not only was awed by meeting one of his favorite players, he immediately congratulated the first baseman on his recent honors as recipient of the Hank Aaron Award and Rawlings Gold Glove Award.

And while the Baseball Writers' Association of America was announcing Goldschmidt as a finalist for the NL Most Valuable Player Award late on Tuesday, the All-Star was on the other side of the world, signing autographs for young Australian baseball players and presenting D-backs Minor Leaguer Keon Broxton with his jersey for the Sydney Blue Sox of the Australian Baseball League.

Broxton and his teammates were celebrating the official launch of the Blue Sox's season at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground, where the D-backs will host the Dodgers. The young outfielder, who attended Spring Training with the big league club last year, is hitting .429 with three RBIs in his first four games in the ABL.

The morning event was attended by several local dignitaries, including New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell, and afterward, Goldschmidt joined Shipley -- the first Australian to appear in a Major League game in the modern era -- for a clinic with the Redfern Red Sox, a local youth team made up primarily of youngsters of Aboriginal decent.

"Having grown up in Sydney, it was incredible to be able to take part in a community event here," said Shipley. "So many of these young kids have never seen a Major League game on TV, but they love to play the game, and we are grateful for the opportunity to spend the afternoon with them."

At the same time Shipley and Goldschmidt were teaching the youngsters, Hall was busy making the rounds on local and national TV before making a keynote presentation to high-ranking executives from the National Rugby League.

"There are so many similarities between Major League Baseball and sports all around the world," said Hall, who was introduced as one of the global leaders of sports administration. "To speak with them about the importance of their 'members' -- the equivalent of our season-ticket holders -- was one of the best parts of our trip so far."

Among the other highlights of the team's three-day visit were a two-hour climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and an evening cruise that passed the iconic Sydney Opera House. While on the boat, the D-backs contingent had the chance to meet local legend Laurie Daley -- one of the top Australian rugby players of all time -- and Stuart Clark, one of the best cricket bowlers of his generation.

In just 10 days, another delegation from the D-backs will head Down Under to promote baseball's first Opening Series in this emerging market, with Patrick Corbin joining representatives from Major League Baseball and the Dodgers for a weeklong visit.

Travel packages for the historic series can be purchased at dbacks.com/Sydney.

Josh Rawitch is the D-backs' senior vice president, communications. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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