As longtime denizens of this site likely know, one of my hobbies is collecting baseball cards. When I began collecting in earnest again (once my kids had reached an age when I thought, wrongly, that they would enjoy it) I discovered that the hobby had changed substantially since I was a kid. When I was a kid, Upper Deck was the gold standard, and also regarded as too expensive to get except on special occasions. ($1.25 a pack? Seriously?) My complete set when I was a kid was 1991 Score; I still have a fondness for the early 90s Score products. For one thing, they provided complete stats on the back, which was a big deal in the pre-internet age. For another, they had more detailed bios. Returning to the hobby, I found new brands (Topps-owned Allen and Ginter and Gypsy Queen are highlights, but I like what Panini has done with the classic Donruss Brand and Panini's Chronicles product, with all of the varying designs, is one of my favorites.) I found that companies were planning chase cards. I discovered live breaks. I spent way too much money.
To collect cards these days, you pretty much have to have narrow collections. After a few years of being far too broad in what I was chasing, I've narrowed it down to three basic collections, which are all primarily Diamondbacks oriented, and a miscellaneous collection of cards I like. There are sets I will chase eventually if I get the money. (The 1992 Bowman set is an absolute train-wreck of bad 1990s fashion choices, and cannot be recommended highly enough.)
One of my collections, which will likely prove the largest in the long run, is my attempt to collect a rookie card of every player that has ever played for the Diamondbacks. Obviously, this collection will grow. Since I started trying to put these cards in order, Tommy Henry and Emmanuel Rivera have been added to the list. I will write more about specific cards at some point (if anyone wants to suggest a player for me to write about their card, please comment) but this is primarily about developing the list of players, because that entailed having to come up with a way to order a list so that I could add to the collection.
There have been, to date, 560 players to appear in a game from the Diamondbacks. An alphabetical list appears simple at first glance, but this would require constant interfiling, which is fine if I were storing the collection in a box. However, I like to be able to look at my cards on occasion, and hope to be able to share them with my kids when they are interested, so I keep them in a binder. So I decided that the best option would be to order them by first appearance with the franchise.
That is simple, for the most part, but there are some difficulties to work out. What to do when multiple players debut at the same time, in the same game? I decided to make the process twofold. If the players were on the field first, players would be sorted by their position number. So, sorry Travis Lee, on my list you are not the first Diamondback, even though I know that, by terms of signing a contract, you were first. But Andy Benes is first on my list, followed by Jorge Fabregas (one of the rookies in that fabulous 1992 Bowman collection, as a matter of fact.) If players batted first, they appeared in their batting order. For example, on opening day in 1999 Steve Finley batted leadoff for the Diamondbacks in Dodger Stadium. After the Diamondbacks were set down in order in the first inning, Randy Johnson took the mound, and Luis Gonzalez went out to left field. In the eighth inning, Ernie Young pinch hit for Johnson, and bacame the fiftieth player in Diamondbacks history. More recently, Tommy Henry and Emmanuel Rivera made their debuts in the same game, and became players 559 and 560, in that order, because Henry pitched before Rivera hit.
I'm not going to post the entire list here, because it is pretty long. But here are some highlights:
- Lyle Overbay, 100th player in franchise history
- Jeff Bajenaru, 200th player in franchise history
- Former SnakePit favorite Wily Mo Pena, 300th player in franchise history
- Zack Godley, 400th player in franchise history
- Andrew Young, 500th player in franchise history
- Retired numbers Randy Johnson and Luis Gonzalez are numbers 48 and 49, respectively, in franchise history
- Longtime bullpen coach Mike Fetters, 108th player in franchise history
- Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, 135th player in franchise history
- Current MLBPA head, Tony Clark, 167th player in franchise history
- Current Diamondback closer Ian Kennedy, 235th player in franchise history
- Likely future Hall of Famer Paul Goldschmidt, 307th player in franchise history
- No-hitter hurler Tyler Gilbert, 535th in franchise history