The city of Phoenix was awarded the Arizona Diamondbacks franchise in 1996, along with plans for a new ballpark, Chase Field. They replaced the Phoenix Firebirds, the area's Triple-A minor league team. Their lower level minor league teams began play in 1997; the expansion draft was held that year as well. The Diamondbacks' first major league game was played against the Colorado Rockies on March 31, 1998, at Chase Field (then known as Bank One Ballpark). The Rockies won, 9-2, with Andy Benes on the mound for the Diamondbacks, and Travis Lee being the first player to hit, score, homer and drive in a run.
In their first five seasons of existence, the Diamondbacks won three division titles (1999, 2001, & 2002) and one World Series. In 1999, Arizona won over 100 games in only its second season to win the National League West division. They lost to the New York Mets in the first round of playoffs.
In 2001, Arizona had postseason victories over the St. Louis Cardinals (3-2 in the NLDS) and the Atlanta Braves (4-1 in the NLCS) to advance to the World Series where, in one of the most exciting series ever, they beat the reigning champions, the New York Yankees, 4 to 3, to become the youngest expansion franchise to win the championship. See 2001 World Series.
By the 2004 season, however, the Diamondbacks had dropped to a dismal 51-111 record, the worst in Major League Baseball that year, despite pitcher Randy Johnson throwing a perfect game on May 18 of that season. Manager Bob Brenly was fired partway through the season and was replaced on an interim basis by Al Pedrique. Following the season, the Diamondbacks hired Wally Backman to be the team's manager. Backman was formerly manager of the Class A California League Lancaster JetHawks, one of the Diamondbacks' minor-league affilliates. Backman was then fired after a legal dispute, and Bob Melvin became the new manager after Backman's ten day tenure.
Following the Backman incident, the Diamondbacks spent heavily on free agents in order to build a contender. The club signed 3B Troy Glaus, P Russ Ortiz, SS Royce Clayton, and 2B Craig Counsell, among others. Then, they traded Randy Johnson to the Yankees, while acquiring Javier Vazquez, Brad Halsey and Shawn Green in a three-team trade that included the Dodgers, and sent Shea Hillenbrand to the Blue Jays. Finally, they traded Casey Fossum to the Devil Rays for José Cruz, Jr..
The Diamondbacks, led by new manager Bob Melvin, finished the 2005 season with a disappointing record of 77 wins and 85 losses. The Diamondbacks ended up 2nd in the NL West, 5 games behind the San Diego Padres. The Diamondbacks were considered by some to be the favorite to win the weak NL West after spending big money on free agents. Injuries hurt the teams chances of being the team people thought they could have been. Starting pitcher Russ Ortiz was out for some time which really hurt the pitching staff. New third baseman Troy Glaus played with a hurt knee all season. Of all the free agents that signed before the season, nobody had a better season than first baseman Tony Clark. Clark started the season as a bench player and ended the season starting and being an important part of the team. Clark was rewarded with a new contract at the end of the season.
- Founded: 1998 (National League expansion)
- Uniform colors: Purple, Teal, and Black
- Logo design: an "A" with one leg of the "A" alternating triangles to suggest a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. An alternate logo is a script "D" in the shape of a snake.
- Playoff appearances (3): 1999, 2001, 2002
- General Manager Josh Byrnes
Minor league affiliations
- AAA: Tucson Sidewinders, Pacific Coast League
- AA: Tennessee Smokies, Southern League
- Advanced A: Lancaster JetHawks, California League
- A: South Bend Silver Hawks, Midwest League
- Short A: Yakima Bears, Northwest League
- Rookie: Missoula Osprey, Pioneer League
- Diamondbacks award winners and league leaders
- Diamondbacks statistical records and milestone achievements
- Diamondbacks players of note
- Diamondbacks broadcasters and media
- Diamondbacks managers and ownership
- Arizona Diamondbacks official web site
- Unofficial Fan site for the Arizona Diamondbacks
- AZ Snake Pit - an Arizona Diamondbacks blog