- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

PHOENIX (AP) For the geezers who play for the Arizona Diamondbacks, success tastes sweeter with age.
The National League champions are an oxymoron a new team with old players, many of whom are about to experience their first World Series.
They seemed as giddy as Little Leaguers as they worked out yesterday at Bank One Ballpark.
It took me 15 years to get here, and I ain't got 15 more years," Mark Grace said. "So I'm absolutely relishing this opportunity and relishing this group of guys."
Grace rattled off a list of Diamondbacks who have played a decade or more but had never made it this far himself, Randy Johnson, Greg Swindell, Bobby Witt, Mike Morgan. Their average age is 38. Together, they have 77 years of major-league experience.
At 38, Johnson has three Cy Young Awards and could win a fourth this year. His 372 strikeouts this season were the third-most in baseball history. But he said making it to the World Series is by far the biggest thing that has happened to him in his career.
"It outweighs any individual accomplishment. There's no comparison," Johnson said. "Like I said last year when the season was over, it still felt like I wasn't a complete ballplayer because I hadn't been to the World Series."
Of the 25 players on the Arizona roster, Craig Counsell is the only one with a World Series ring from the 1997 Florida Marlins. Curt Schilling, Matt Williams, Steve Finley and Brian Anderson have played in a World Series, but on the losing side.
For everyone else, this is the first time.
"One of the byproducts of this success story is that players who have spent a career in the minors and majors and are now nearing the end, for the first time they're getting a taste of something like this," Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo said.
"For me it kind of climaxes a career. I mean, every player's dream is to one day play in the World Series and be a champion."
The players have joked about their age all season.
"We'll just take our walkers and go down and see what we can do," Matt Williams said before spring training began.
No one takes more ribbing than Morgan. At 42, he's played for a record 12 different teams in 20 big-league seasons. In the euphoria of the Arizona clubhouse after the victory in Atlanta that sent the Diamondbacks to the World Series, Grace shouted, "I'd like to congratulate Mike Morgan on 52 years of major-league service."
Mo-man, as his teammates call him, and the Diamondbacks have an attitude that has remained forever young.
"I think back to that first Little League practice of the spring and you couldn't wait to get your glove and your plastic cleats on and go down to the sandlot and start another baseball season," Arizona manager Bob Brenly said. "Mo-man still feels that way every year, every game. His enthusiasm is almost overwhelming."
Always emotional, Morgan is thrilled to make it to the series at last.
"It's overwhelming," he said. "It really makes it special with this group of guys."
That sense of camaraderie, as corny as it sounds, has been evident from the start. This team has grasped the old-timer image and rallied behind it.
Like most of the rest of Arizona, these players came from somewhere else. They came through other organizations, then headed to the Southwest for the twilight of their careers.
Colangelo put them together to win in a hurry. The Diamondbacks came through with a World Series appearance in the franchise's fourth season the fastest in major-league history.
"If you talk to all these old guys in here, they'll tell you that we believe," Grace said. "We kind of believe that we're a team of destiny."

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