Derrick Hall, who was appointed Diamondbacks president on Sept. 6, participated in a Web chat Friday. Hall touched on many subjects, including Luis Gonzalez's last season in Arizona, the talented young players on the club and in the Minors and the Diamondbacks' new uniforms.
Derrick Hall: Hello to all. This is exciting for me to be given the opportunity to speak with all of you here today. I hope we will be able to get to most of your questions.
Question: Who have been your mentors in the game?
Hall: I have had so many mentors in this great game. I will start with the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, who has been a friend and has done so much for the game through the introduction of Interleague Play, the Wild Card system, and a World Series attachment to the All-Star Game. In addition, I have looked up to Peter O'Malley, the former owner of the Dodgers, as well as his long-time general manager, Fred Claire. I worked closely with Bob Graziano in L.A., who followed suit in caring for the fans.
Question: Congratulations, Mr. President. The baseball spark in Danny ignited a year or so ago. He's a huge fan of Shawn Green. I got a D-Backs email and saw this notice earlier today. How cool. You always did have it all going on.
Hall: Thanks Chuck. So nice to hear from you. Every child should have a role model to look up to. Please tell your family hello.
Question: What do you see as offseason goals for the organization, both on and off the field?
Hall: Great question. We need to continue to communicate to the fans that we have a plan. Our baseball staff has made several strong moves to show such a plan. I realize that some moves may not be popular to our fans, such as saying goodbye to Luis Gonzalez, but their decisions are on course with their direction and philosophy. We obviously need to build back our season-ticket base and continue to be active and positive members in the community.
Question: Did you get into baseball thinking that maybe someday you'd be president of a club? When did that realization take place?
Hall: That was always a goal in the back of my mind. I thought it was most important to learn all aspects of the business first, which I was able to do by going through the ranks of Minor League baseball and then onto the Majors. It is an absolute dream come true to be the President of this franchise, in what I consider to be the greatest market there is. I have been fortunate to work alongside Rich Dozer, another mentor of mine in preparing me to get here.
Question: Who is your biggest free-agent target this offseason?
Hall: This will be a decision for the baseball operations staff, but I think we would all agree that pitching will be a focus. We are fortunate enough to now have a strong core of position players in place, who happen to be young and under our control, such as Brandon Webb, Chad Tracy, Conor Jackson, Orlando Hudson, Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin and Eric Byrnes. With the addition of Livan Hernandez, we have seen how important it is to have a quality pitcher who can eat up innings and keep you in a game.
Question: What are you going to do to acquire new fans and bring back some of those who have not come back?
Hall: We must continue to provide fans with a safe, clean and wholesome family environment. With that, the fan experience should be second to none and should encourage fans to come back regardless of the outcome of the game. However, our business is to win games. With that, we will put together a team of players who can be together for many years to come and who will win on a consistent basis. We will add value beginning this season for our season-ticket customers -- after all, membership should have its privileges.
Question: Who is your pick for the MVP of the team?
Hall: I would have to say it's a tie. My vote would be split for Webb, who I think deserves the Cy Young, along with Byrnes and Hudson.
Question: How has your role with the Dodgers helped you transition to the D-Backs?
Hall: The Dodgers taught me to care about the fans and to take pride in the facility. I know all of the ushers and ticket-takers by name as a result of the way I was taught to go about my business. I will stop to pick up a napkin off of the floor if I pass one. And I will go out of my way to thank as many fans as possible for supporting our team and for coming to Chase Field.
Question: Do you have a Dirty Byrnes T-shirt yet?
Hall: Of course I do. The irony is putting on a Dirty Byrnes T-shirt right after a shower. That had to have been one of the best promotions ever. I hope you liked it.
Question: What has been your most memorable moment in baseball?
Hall: My most memorable moment in baseball was finding Jason Kurtz, the cancer survivor from Flagstaff and asking him to throw out our first pitch this season. He was not supposed to be alive for that game, yet fought and won. He thought he was attending his final game ever last season before surgery. When we learned that he had defeated cancer, we did not look to any celebrities or former players. He deserved it more than anyone. My most memorable moment on the field was witnessing Hideo Nomo's no-hitter at Coors Field.
Question: Please don't trade Alberto Callaspo.
Hall: Boy, what an exciting player. Yet another indication of how talented our farm system is. He is very much in the plans according to Josh and his staff. When they traded for him from the Angels, they were well aware of his athleticism and ability to play so many positions. He is fun to watch.
Question: You career has spanned baseball as well as other fields. What keeps drawing you back to the game?
Hall: There is a true passion and fire inside of me. I have always said that baseball does not become a part of you, you become a part of it. It is a world of its own with amazing players who come and go, and fans who never leave. I love this game and care deeply about its future and its success. When you are on the outside looking in, you can't wait to get back to contribute to the fans.
Question: What do you think you are going to be able to contribute to the club as their new president that Rich Levin hadn't already tried?
Hall: Rich Dozer has been an amazing leader. I have been fortunate to work with him for the last year and a half, while getting to know all of our employees and seeing the value that they all bring. I will focus on making this franchise financially efficient, while remaining committed to providing a competitive team on the field. And the fans have my word that they come first and that I am here for them. I encourage fans to call me or to stop me at games to share thoughts or to just say hello.
Question: What are your plans for the roof in the future?
Hall: This is an important issue each and every game. We would love to play with the roof open as much as possible, but must make a decision on a game-by-game basis due to the weather. If there are storms or monsoons coming, we cannot chance having it open. And we need to keep the comfort of ALL fans in mind when deciding on the roof's status. What may seem comfortable to one fan on the third-base side could feel miserable to another in the direct sun and heat on the first-base side.
Question: Do the D-Backs have a facility in the Dominican Republic like a lot of other clubs? And how active are the D-Backs in Latin America?
Hall: We do. We actually share it with other clubs. International scouting and development is extremely important for any club hoping to remain competitive without relying simply on the free agent draft.
Question: What is your favorite D-Backs program that you are currently offering to the fans?
Hall: I would have to say Kids Eat Free. This has been extremely effective and has made all fans happy -- season-ticket holders as well as single-game buyers. Again, I want to provide our fans with a family experience and if affordability can help, I'm all for it.
Question: What is your perceived feedback so far regarding the color change for next year?
Hall: It has been mixed, but we mostly hear from fans who are expressing their desire to keep the purple. I can understand that. However, I am real excited about our new uniforms and new look. I have actually brought a few fans to my office to show them after they have communicated their displeasure to me and they have all walked away excited. I cannot wait until we can unveil them for our fans.
Question: Who was the best player at last year's fantasy camp?
Hall: I think it was a tie, Steve. You came in second place, but there was a 64-person tie for first.
Question: Big-time fan favorite, Gonzo, is leaving soon. What is the organization doing to prepare for a potential fan backlash?
Hall: This was a terribly difficult decision for the organization. Gonzalez is my favorite player. Keep in mind that every employee is a fan as well. This decision collectively hit us hard too. Yet again, there is a plan in place and our young players are ready to be on the field. We hate to see Gonzo go, but are excited about the prospect of Byrnes playing in left field every game. He will always be cherished here as a member of the family. And we hope to reunite with him by employing him when he is finished with his playing career.
Question: Did you ever play baseball, or have you always been more interested in the business side of things?
Hall: I have always been interested in the business side. I wish I was good enough to play beyond youth sports, but when you're not, you quickly look to making a career out of the front office side. I wasn't terrible, but I certainly belonged behind a desk rather than behind the plate.
Question: Which young players, either on the club or in the Minors, do you think will make an impact in 2007?
Hall: I hope they all will. We've already seen how Drew and Quentin can contribute and are beginning to see how Chris Young can, too. We will continue to receive production from Hudson, Tracy, Jackson, Webb and Byrnes as well. Watch for a Minor Leaguer by the name of Carlos Gonzalez, and continue to monitor Justin Upton.
Hall: I have been told I have rambled enough. This has been wonderful and I could have sat here all day. Please feel free to look for me at the ballpark, or if you'd like, I can do more chats. Remember, I'm here for you. I am humbled yet excited in this new post. Best of luck to you all...and go Diamondbacks!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.