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World Series 2001
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10/15/2001 04:19 AM ET
D-Backs appreciate their accomplishment
By Gary Rausch
MLB.com
PHOENIX -- It was a once-in-a-lifetime scene inside the Arizona clubhouse Sunday night -- and not just because Diamondbacks Managing General Partner Jerry Colangelo was dancing with a do-rag on his head.

Never before had the desert-based baseball team celebrated a clinching victory at home. They won the 1999 NL West championship in San Francisco, the 2001 flag in Milwaukee nine days ago.

When Tony Womack's two-out, ninth-inning bloop single to left sent pinch runner Danny Bautista scurrying home from second, bedlam reigned among the 42,810 fans in Bank One Ballpark. The Diamondbacks were going to the NL Championship Series by virtue of their 2-1 win over St. Louis, the first time a NLDS went the full five games.

Even before Bautista's head-first slide across home ended the game, teammates were already vacating the dugout and sprinting toward second. There they mobbed Womack.

It was several minutes before the Arizona shortstop could compose himself enough to do a post-game interview for national television. When he finally entered the Diamondbacks' clubhouse, he was immediately sprayed with sparkling cider and doused with canned beer. Eardrum-piercing music blared. The party was on.

Players, coaches, clubhouse and front office personnel hugged each other. Media streamed in, followed by players' families. Wives and girlfriends kissed their sweethearts while children danced and emulated their fathers, dousing each other with beverages.

"If it's meant to be, it's meant for us to win it here at home," said Luis Gonzalez. "We've won two division titles on the road, and we hadn't had an opportunity to celebrate anything in front of our home crowd. We would've liked to have won 5-0 or 6-0, but to do it in this kind of fashion, dramatic like it was, for our fans to get to see an exciting game and an exciting series, really meant a lot."

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It was wet and wild, and in stark contrast to the dead silence permeating the same room not long before winning pitcher Curt Schilling delivered the first pitch. The Diamondbacks held a players-only meeting. Among those taking the floor with personal pep talks were Gonzalez, Randy Johnson, Todd Stottlemyre and Mark Grace.

"We talked about this game," Grace said. "The only thing I said was, 'The reason I signed here, guys, was because I knew this team had the opportunity to do something special. We've done some pretty special things this year, but it's not over. We've got bigger fish to fry.'

"Randy's a guy that doesn't have a whole lot to say, but when he does talk, you listed," Grace added. "Stottlemyre gave us a real emotional speech about what it takes. Coming from him meant a lot, that he was that driven to talk to us like that. The only thing I regret is that I didn't get a chance to play behind him this year. I know next year I'm going to get that chance. I've admired his warrior-type mentality as an opponent of his. He was a warrior in that meeting today. He's a guy you don't want to let down."

Stottlemyre was hesitant to mention his contribution.

"If somebody got something from it, great," said the injured pitcher. "I just talked about past experiences and life; times when I was bad and how I thought, times where I was good and what I was thinking. It's up to each and every guy, their perception and perspective on whatever it takes to focus in the heat of the moment on that task at hand.

"I haven't been around all year, but it's been some kind fun to watch this club. They've been so resilient. These special moments only get more special as they go. I've got the best seat in the house."

Gonzalez said the veterans wanted to let the younger and less-experienced players realize the enormity of this game was.

"A lot of us have been playing a lot of years and we don't get this chance very often, so let's try to seize it and do whatever we can to win it," said Gonzalez. "We have a lot of different characters, but when we get between the lines, we try to get it done any way we can."

Johnson said the gist of the speakers words were to leave everything on the field.

"We were either going to continue playing after tonight or we weren't," Johnson said. "It was one game to lay it on the line and everybody did. Everybody knew what we needed to do, but I think it was important that got everybody on the same page at the same time."

Gary Rausch is a reporter for MLB.com.