Before the D-backs play GCU, enjoy two World Series dingers from the school's greatest alumnus
At 3:10 p.m. ET, the first pitch of 2017 will be thrown when the D-backs take on Grand Canyon University. Sure, it won't count in the standings, and there's only one Major League team taking part, but there will be pitchers, batters, and a bevy of relievers (it is still February, after all) getting their very first game action of the year.
GCU may not be the largest exporter of Major League talent, but the school has produced 24 Major Leaguers. Most notable is the Angels' all-time home run leader: Tim Salmon.
Shockingly, despite winning the Rookie of the Year and hitting 25-plus home runs six times, Salmon was never elected to an All-Star Game. He probably doesn't mind, though, because he has something much more elusive: A World Series ring, which he collected after the Angels defeated the Giants in 2002.
That championship never happens without Salmon, though.
Leading 5-4 in the bottom of the second of Game 2, Salmon cracked a two-run shot. Then, with the score tied at 9 in the bottom of the eighth, Salmon hit another two-run dinger. Those runs would prove vital as Barry Bonds hit a solo home run in the ninth and the Angels held on to win, 11-10.
All told, Salmon was 4-for-4 with four RBIs and three runs scored in the victory. Without the team's legendary DH that day, the Angels likely don't win that game and never reach the seventh and decisive game to win the club's lone World Series championship.
Unfortunately for GCU, they'll be without Salmon on their roster for Wednesday's game as they look to repeat the upset that University of Tampa pulled off in 2015 against the Phillies. They will, however, have a bevy of players with excellent names, like Kona Quiggle and Marc Mumper, along with Bobby Milacki, the son of former big league pitcher Bob Milacki.
The D-backs haven't made it easy on college teams in recent history, though. The team beat Arizona State, 4-0, in 2015, and took down both the University of Arizona and West Virginia University, last spring.
Follow along with the action on MLB.com's Gameday.