Diamondbacks to retire Gonzalez’s No. 20

By BOB BAUM AP Sports Writer

PHOENIX(AP)—The Arizona Diamondbacks will retire Luis Gonzalez’s(notes) No. 20, the first player to be so honored in the franchise’s 13-year history.

Gonzalez, who played eight seasons for Arizona, is the franchise leader in virtually every offensive category, including games (1,194), hits (1,337), home runs (224) and RBIs (774).

He hit a franchise-record 57 home runs in 2001, but one of his shortest hits was his biggest. The ninth-inning bloop single, off Mariano Rivera(notes), over the head of shortstop Derek Jeter(notes) brought in the winning run against the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

The number will be retired in a pregame ceremony Aug. 7. The decision to honor Gonzalez was announced Wednesday night before the finale of a three-game series against the Yankees.

“It’s a great honor,” Gonzalez told reporters. “I’m truly humbled by it.”

Gonzalez rejoined the Arizona organization this season as special assistant to club president Derrick Hall.

The Diamondbacks abandoned their policy of not retiring a player’s number before he had been selected to the Hall of Fame.

“We have a rich history since our inception and our players who played a large role in our success deserve our recognition,” said Hall, who called Gonzalez “our franchise’s most popular player.”

Gonzalez hit .283 with 2,591 hits, 354 home runs and 1,439 RBIs with six teams in a 19-year major league career (1990-2008). His 596 doubles rank 15th on baseball’s career list. Gonzalez is one of 17 players in major league history to have at least 2,500 hits, 500 doubles, 350 home runs and 1,000 RBIs.

He was a journeyman player on his fourth team in four seasons when the Diamondbacks acquired him from Detroit after Arizona’s inaugural 1998 season.

“I was excited because the organization was moving in the direction where they were bringing in a lot of veteran players and it was an opportunity for me to just mix in with a bunch of guys that loved to play the game and knew how to play the game,” Gonzalez said. “… I prided myself on trying to be a stable horse with the organization and for them to give me the honor of being the actual first player to have my number retired as a Diamondback is pretty special.”

Gonzalez became a star in the desert, making the NL All-Star team five times, including every season from 2001 through 2003.

“Sometimes you find a place where it’s a perfect fit for you, and this was it for me,” he said. “I was surrounded by a bunch of great players and it elevated my game.”

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Updated Wednesday, Jun 23, 2010