In 2014, the Diamondbacks are in a position to make history.
Success may well come on the baseball diamond, but the history is represented when the D-backs open next season outside of the United States. Engaging their National League West rivals Los Angeles Dodgers in a two game series is Sydney, Australia March 22 and 23, this set will the first regular season Major League Baseball games on that continent.
In advance of the series, the Diamondbacks are sending two parties to promote the games.
The first consists of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, CEO Derrick Hall, D-backs special assistant to the General Manager and Sydney-born Glen Shipley, and Josh Rawitch, VP of Communications for the team, and they are in Sydney this week.
The second unit of pitcher Patrick Corbin, Shipley and Graham Rossini, D-backs VP of Special Projects will head for Sydney later this month, Nov. 18-22.
The games are scheduled for the venerable Sydney Cricket Grounds, which was dedicated in 1876. The stadium will be reconfigured for baseball. A fence will be added and the bullpens will locate behind the fence.
Capacity is being reduced from 48,000 to 36,000 and actual numbers for baseball will be determined. The largest crowd to see a sports event at the Sydney Cricket Grounds was 76,056, a rugby match on Sept. 18, 1965. The largest crowd for a cricket match was 58,446 on Dec. 15, 1928.
“Growing up in Sydney, I was fortunate to see many several sporting events at the Cricket Grounds in person,” said Shipley in a statement released by the D-backs. “In my senior year of high school, I had the privilege of playing rugby in the Cricket Grounds but never did I imagine a Major League game would be played there.”
Shipley, a left-handed pitcher, was the first Australian player to play in the major leagues.
Though plans are to be finalized, a preliminary design has the Dodgers and D-backs fly out after their spring training game on Sunday March 16. Teams will each take a day to recover from jet lag, practice and play one exhibition game. The season will start on Saturday night March 22 at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
The Diamondbacks are the home team for both games and expected to lose two home dates with the Dodgers at Chase Field. Because of a quirk in the schedule, they will actually lose only one home date with the 2013 National League Western Division champions.
Instead of the usual nine games, the Dodgers are slated to visit Chase Field for eight games. Three are scheduled for the weekend of April 11-13, another three game weekend set for May 16-18 and two on August 26 and 27.
The Diamondbacks will play their complement of nine games at Dodger Stadium, all weekend series. These are the weekends of April 18-20, June 13-15 and Sept, 5-7.