SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – What does a Major League baseball player factor in when deciding the best moment of his career? For Brad Ziegler, it was a game he never entered.
The Diamondbacks reliever was in the USA bullpen watching the 2009 World Baseball Classic second round elimination game against Puerto Rico. The game was won on a David Wright walk-off, propelling USA into the semifinals to mark the deepest run the country had ever made.
“I remember the dog pile on the field,” Ziegler said. “We knew going into that, we didn’t want to be another Team USA that didn’t make it to the finals. It was a really fun moment, a special moment in my career for sure.”
Every D-back has a special moment when they look back at their careers.
For veteran outfielder Cody Ross, the recollection is baseball’s ultimate triumph.
“When we (the San Francisco Giants) won the 2010 World Series,” Ross said. “It was a feeling that every player in here wants to feel. My emotion at that time was something that you really can’t explain.”
Starting pitcher Archie Bradley has a particularly fond memory of the day he was drafted. He was surrounded by friends and family, including pitcher and lifelong friend Dylan Bundy, who was selected in the first round of that draft. too.
“We had a big draft party,” Bradley said. “I just remember when I got picked, my best friends were behind me, my parents came up – it was a really emotional time.”
The day wasn’t without its anxiety, though.
“Dylan goes fourth (overall), so that’s awesome,” Bradley said. “But then five goes, and six goes. So I’m sitting there like, ‘What if I don’t get picked in the first round? This is going to be really embarrassing.’ Then Commissioner (Bud) Selig comes up to make the next pick, and he said my name, and everyone started yelling and screaming. It was awesome.”
Outfielder Mark Trumbo cited his first hit as the memory that stands out the most. It came in the Angels 2010 season finale against the Texas Rangers.
“If I hadn’t gotten a hit there, I would’ve gone that season without any hits,” Trumbo said. “It was a pretty cool moment.”
Not everyone thought his best moment came on the big stage. For pitcher David Hernandez, you have to go all the way back to Little League.
“The very first highlight for me was winning the Little League World Series regionals in Southern California,” Hernandez said. “It was my first memory of how fun it is.”
Their memories are all preserved in memorabilia documenting the biggest moments of their careers: the ball from their first hit, a glove worn on their debut, or a bat that drove Ross’s NLCS MVP-winning campaign.
Trey Lanthier is a senior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between ArizonaSports.com and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.