Ziegler, D-backs pay another tribute to fallen Hot Shots
MAY 16, 2014 4:57p ET
PHOENIX -- Brad Ziegler is as devoted in his giving as he is stingy with his earned runs, and he was at it again Friday morning.
Ziegler and Diamondbacks president/CEO Derrick Hall dedicated the latest of the D-backs' youth baseball fields in Prescott on Friday as a lasting tribute to the memory of the 19 Granite Mountain Hot Shots who perished in the Yarnell Hill wild fire last July. Ziegler proposed the idea to the Diamondbacks and first considered placing the field in Yarnell before it become apparent that the larger town of Prescott would be a better fit.
Hall and Ziegler spoke at the dedication, and Ziegler said his three-minute talk went a little longer than he'd originally planned.
"I cried my whole speech," Ziegler said. "It was emotional. It was tough."
The mayor of Prescott, Marlin Kuykendall, and Arizona state senator Steve Pierce were in attendance, as were two children of the firefighters who were lost. The No. 19 was affixed to the center-field fence at the park, and a bronze plaque with the names of the fallen was erected.
"My parents always instilled as part of my faith to give back to those less fortunate," Ziegler said. "A situation like this, you can't imagine what it's like to be one of those kids and your dad goes back to work one day and he doesn't come home. They have to grow up the rest of their life wrestling with those questions that come with that. This can be a way that they ... can know that their dads were heroes.
"They died trying to save other people's lives. Maybe those other lives were not in immediate danger, but they could have been had no one been doing anything to try to prevent it. You talk to military people -- they don't look at themselves as heroes. They say the heroes are the ones who didn't come home. It's the same principle. They're fighting for something they truly believe in and they are protecting their loved ones at home. And the situation arose where they weren't able to come home.
"It doesn't mean their stories and the effect that they can have on us going forward should be lost."
The Diamondbacks paid tribute to the Hot Shots at their game against the Rockies on July 5 with a 19-second moment of silence. Pictures of those lost were shown on the center field Jumbotron. A No. 19 was painted in white in a black circle behind home plate over their customary team logo, and D-backs players wore specially designed black jerseys with "Arizona" in red across the front. A white "19" patch was stitched above the team name on the jerseys, above the heart.
The Diamondbacks raised $705,395 to aid the families through raffles, auctions, and direct donations. Fans raised $252,364, and the D-backs Foundation added $200,000 with a matching grant.
"The event didn't touch me any more than it did the community or anyone else in the locker room," Ziegler said. "It presented an opportunity to do something that will continuing in line. It's just one more thing we can do."
Ziegler founded in 2009 his Pastime for Patriots charitable organization, which provides scholarships and family-friendly activities for military members and their families. The group has donated more than $20,000 in scholarships to children of soldiers who died while in service and has distributed nearly 17,000 baseball tickets.
"We want to make sure they know how much their sacrifices mean to us," Ziegler sad.