D-backs employees to visit team academy in the DR
PHOENIX -- D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall estimates that he has visited the talent-rich country of the Dominican Republic around 10 times while with the organization.
But when talking about the five-day trip to the country he and 29 other team employees will embark on beginning June 10, he admits this one will be a bit more special.
Among the group that will visit the D-backs' academy in Boca Chica and dedicate a nearby field that the organization has recently renovated will be the winning team from the D-backs Give Back League and the MVPs of the other eight teams.
"This will be different," Hall said. "In the past, I've gone down to the academy to meet with our staff, but I've never traveled with full-time employees who earned the right to be there because of the good they've done in the community."
Launched in 2012, the D-backs Give Back League brought together more than 100 team employees separated into nine squads tasked to created inspired projects to raise money for charitable organizations.
The winning team this year got members of the Arizona community to creatively decorate home plates that were put on-line for auction to benefit the homeless community at Ozanam Manor, a shelter in Phoenix. A couple of the plates that raised significant money included one painted by acclaimed artist RB Anderson while another one showcased the D-backs' logo and was signed by several Arizona players.
Initially, the D-backs only planned to bring the winning team to the Dominican Republic, but because the club was so overwhelmed by the program's success, it decided to offer a trip to one member of each of the other teams.
Some of the projects those employees worked on ranged from the renovation of four Child Protective Service offices around the state that assist foster kids to the renovation of a school playground to reading to homeless children and packing "bags of hope" for kids who go hungry each weekend.
"This was such a unique opportunity for our employees," Hall said. "It built teamwork with them while also helping the community around us. It's really recognition to the staff that works so hard and is often unrecognized."
While in the Dominican Republic at the field dedication, the group of employees will donate baseball equipment for use by local youth. The field was completely leveled and among the improvements made by the D-backs is new grass with improved irrigation, new dugouts, a rebuilt seating area with new concrete foundation and new bathrooms.
"We gave back in Phoenix and now we're also giving back there to that community, which is an important one to us because we've recruited, we've signed and we've developed so many players from that area," Hall said. "Now to go back and be able to impact future players by renovating a baseball field, it's going to be very special and rewarding for our employees to hear one day from different players that they grew up on that field we fixed."