D-backs To Open 15th Season With Memorable Festivities

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that the sold-out Opening Day at Chase Field this Friday will include several memorable elements, including the unveiling of the 2011 National League West Division Championship icon. Arizona State University Head Football Coach Todd Graham and University of Arizona Head Football Coach Rich Rodriguez will throw out the ceremonial first pitches. Arizona native Drew Ryniewicz, a 14-year-old who rose to fame recently on X Factor, will perform the National Anthem while several key members of the 2011 defending NL West champion D-backs will receive the awards they won following last season. The roof is expected to be open at Chase Field.

“Opening Day is a special day for the entire city and for D-backs fans everywhere,” said D-backs’ President & CEO Derrick Hall. “It’s a great opportunity to celebrate some of the amazing accomplishments of last season while officially turning the page on the new season and getting ready to defend our National League West Division championship.”

During pregame ceremonies, D-backs outfielder Gerardo Parra will be presented with his 2011 Rawlings Gold Glove Award while pitcher Daniel Hudson and outfielder Justin Upton will each receive their 2011 Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award. Reigning BBWAA NL Manager of the Year Kirk Gibson will receive his award from General Manager Kevin Towers.

In addition, the team will unveil the permanent icon to commemorate last year’s division championship, which will hang alongside the icons from 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2007.

Graham and Rodriguez will throw out the ceremonial first pitches. Graham was named the head football coach of Arizona State University in December and Rodriguez took over head coaching duties at the University of Arizona in November. Rodriguez (75-48) and Graham (49-29) have a combined Division I winning percentage of .617 (124-77).

Ryniewicz, who was born in Chino Valley, was coached on X Factor by Simon Cowell and became an early favorite on the show after performing Justin Bieber’s hit song “Baby.” She later performed covers of Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson, among others.

“I’m so excited for this opportunity,” said Ryniewicz. “It's my first time to sing at a Major League Baseball game, and it is an honor to do it for my home state! The love and support from my community and abroad has been a huge encouragement.”

At Friday’s Opening Day, an oversized flag will be unfurled in the outfield by Project ChalleNGe, a preventive “youth at risk” program run by the Arizona National Guard. An honor guard from Luke Air Force Base will present the colors before the pilots at Luke AFB will flyover Chase Field in F-16CM “Fighting Falcon” aircraft as part of the 310th Fighter Squadron.

Stadium gates will open early on Friday at 2:00 p.m. with first pitch set for 4:10 p.m. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 3:30 p.m. to watch the entire pregame ceremony. The first 50,000 fans in attendance will receive a D-backs t-shirt, courtesy of Gila River Casinos.

To purchase tickets for future home games, including Opening Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, fans can visit the Chase Field Ticket Window, visit dbacks.com, losdbacks.com or call (620) 514-8400.