D-backs’ ‘Throwback Thursday’ campaign brought back rich memories for team, fans

In the fall of 2001, the Valley was painted purple and teal as the upstart Diamondbacks, just four seasons into their existence, were locked in a World Series battle with the storied New York Yankees.

Down by a run in the ninth inning of Game 7, Arizona’s Mark Grace started a comeback rally that would culminate in Luis Gonzalez’s World Series-winning broken-bat single. That game has been immortalized in Arizona sports history, along with the old purple-and-teal jerseys worn by the franchise’s only World Series winner.

“That uniform for me, represents one of the all-time great teams,” said Grace, now the Diamondbacks’ assistant hitting coach. “We were a great team and obviously beat a great team in the Yankees… so I proudly wear those colors.”

Fans of those colors rejoiced this year as the team wore throwback jerseys for each Thursday home game as part of its “Throwback Thursday” promotion.

The Diamondbacks wore the purple and teal from their inception in 1998 until the end of the 2006 season when the team switched to its current Sedona red, Sonoran sand, black and white color scheme. In addition to its only World Series crown, the team won its first three division titles in the purple and teal.

The promotion appeared to be successful: In five Thursday home games a season ago, the Diamondbacks averaged 19,620 fans per game, while in its seven 2015 Thursday home games, the team averaged 20,826 fans.

In the past, the Diamondbacks wore uniforms from their history on one weekend only as part of the franchise’s Reunion Weekend, which featured an alumni game with former Diamondback players. Fans were glad to see the old colors on a more regular basis this season.

“I loved it because I’ve been a D-backs fan from its inception and I really like the teal and purple combination,” fan Bobby Sullivan said. “When they said they were going to have ‘Throwback Thursdays’ it just was a perfect fit.”

Diamondbacks catcher Tuffy Gosewisch grew up in Arizona, attending Scottsdale’s Horizon High School before playing baseball at Arizona State University.

“I watched the Diamondbacks as soon as the team started in ’98 because I lived here, and then all the way through college … my whole life really,” Gosewisch said.

The throwback games allowed him to put on the same jerseys he grew up watching on television.

“It’s a dream come true,” Gosewisch said.

“I think it’s cool and it’s neat for the fans,” Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said. “And to let our players know there is a history here. Sometimes I think we forget. We got a World Series pretty quickly here and that’s what we are always striving for.”

“I like it. I like the idea of having it at least one day like they do,” Diamondbacks fan Terry Titus said. “Always remembering your past is a good thing.”

“It’s a part of Diamondback history that I think it’s important to hang on to because there was a lot of great players, great players, that wore those colors and I think it’s good to throw back every Thursday,” Grace said.