PHOENIX -- The sun was shining during a windy Tuesday morning in Douglas, Ariz. -- a city of 17,000 residents that Mayor Robert Uribe proclaimed as "the greatest border community in Arizona" -- as it welcomed Erubiel Durazo and the Arizona Diamondbacks to honor the baseball hero with the dedication
PHOENIX -- The sun was shining during a windy Tuesday morning in Douglas, Ariz. -- a city of 17,000 residents that Mayor Robert Uribe proclaimed as "the greatest border community in Arizona" -- as it welcomed Erubiel Durazo and the Arizona Diamondbacks to honor the baseball hero with the dedication of Erubiel Durazo Field.
"It is a dream come true," said Durazo, who was joined at the dedication by D-backs president & CEO Derrick Hall, APS executive vice president Mark Schiavoni and D-backs Spanish play-by-play announcer Oscar Soria. "The D-backs gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues, and now they honor me with a field. It's just amazing. Douglas is right across the border from Agua Prieta, where I played for a long time. We didn't have fields like this one. Now other kids can make dreams come true just like I did."
Soria was the master of ceremonies in front of hundreds of local kids and other citizens as he joined the entire Douglas community to honor Durazo at the unveiling of the D-backs and Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation's 40th field in the "Diamonds Back" Youth Field Building Program, presented by APS.
"I had the opportunity to share my childhood with Erubiel and his family when we both were kids, and I can't help but be moved by what happened today," said Soria, a Hermosillo, Mexico, native who played baseball with Durazo when they were young. "The interesting thing about Erubiel was that he wasn't the best player or one of the select few projected to be a future pro on our Little League team, but he persevered, setting goals for himself and eventually became, in my opinion, one of the greatest Mexican ballplayers ever."
Erubiel Durazo Field will allow children of all ages to play baseball and softball on a state-of-the-art field that includes LED lights and an electronic scoreboard that lit up with the same 3-2 score that D-backs fans remember so fondly from the Game 7 win in the 2001 World Series against the New York Yankees.
"We always get excited for these event dedications," said Hall. "These are beautiful, immaculate fields. Erubiel was the ideal person [to name the field after]. He is a kind and generous person who is a role model for kids and cares about the community.
"There is a reason why we are the Arizona Diamondbacks and not the Phoenix Diamondbacks. The kids are coming here today for the opening, but what's even more important is that they are going to play here forever. Knowing that we are going to have kids get off the streets and become fans of the sport by playing baseball and softball is what's important. To have them creating memories on a field named after one of our all-time greatest D-backs is very rewarding."
Durazo himself was in awe of the love and affection he was given by a community that embraced him wholeheartedly after years of seeing him play as a little kid on those same fields.
"I did not expect so many people to come," Durazo said after he assisted in the inauguration by setting down one of the bases and taking pictures and signing hundreds of autographs for children and adults alike. "The stadium is full. It's phenomenal."
Erubiel's mother, María Esther Cárdenas, beamed with pride as her son was immortalized and reminisced about what Erubiel was like as a 7-year-old kid in Hermosillo.u5:pu5:p
"We always supported him as a family," she said. "He was playing baseball on a dirt field, and my nephew came home running to tell me that Erubiel was crying. I ran out all concerned, only to find out he was bawling because he had struck out."
No kid will ever strike out at the opportunity of playing America's national pastime at Erubiel Durazo Field, and who knows … maybe the next "El Eru" will come to Chase Field directly from Douglas.u5:p
"We are always looking for future D-backs, and I would love to see it happen here in Douglas, an important part of our state," said Hall.u5:p
Martin Bater is a contributor to MLB.com.