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Live Life Deliberately

Snakes Alive: How one fan’s simple sign became an October rallying cry

Back in spring training, the Arizona Diamondbacks adopted the mantra “Create Chaos” as a reflection of the team’s hair-on-fire approach on the base paths. Led by presumptive National League rookie of the year Corbin Carroll’s 54 stolen bases, Manager Torey Lovullo’s squad would swipe 166 bags during the regular season, second most in MLB.

In mid-September, with Arizona in a heated race for one of the NL’s final wild-card spots, a modified slogan, “Embrace the Chaos,” began appearing in the team’s promotional materials and on the Diamondbacks’ social media accounts. During Arizona’s improbable run to the World Series, an entirely different phrase of even more improbable origin has taken the desert by storm: “SNAKES ALIVE.”

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It was the second inning of Game 3 of the NL Championship Series, with the Diamondbacks trailing the defending NL champion Philadelphia Phillies two games to none, when TBS cameras showed a fan at Arizona’s Chase Field holding a sign with those two words printed in a simple font and in all caps on an 8½-by-11 piece of paper.

“Creating the sign was just something I thought up in the morning before I went to the game,” 72-year-old Jeff Guzzardo, who did not respond to a request for comment, said during a radio interview Saturday on Phoenix’s KMVP (98.7 FM). “I got to thinking: ‘How about a little sign? Because I’m not a big guy about big poster signs.’ … I thought, ‘Snakes Alive — that’s a good one.’ So I just typed it up and put it in my bag on the way to the ballpark.”

Guzzardo’s sign became fodder for jokes on social media, but after the Diamondbacks won Game 3 on a walk-off single by Ketel Marte, the team’s marketing department saw an opportunity. Before Game 4, it printed 1,000 “Snakes Alive” signs modeled after Guzzardo’s original on card stock above the team’s official “Embrace the Chaos” slogan and taped them to seats in the third level. Arizona won, 6-5, to even the series.

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“I was just supporting the D’backs. It’s no big deal,” Guzzardo told the Athletic’s Sam Blum, who did the world a great service by tracking him down last week. “But if it caught on fire and creates some excitement, that’s great.”

Guzzardo, who told the Athletic that he may have heard a version of the phrase in a movie, said Lovullo and Diamondbacks bench coach Jeff Banister noticed his sign, which was printed in Helvetica Neue font from the Pages app on his MacBook, and acknowledged him before Game 3.

“I stood up with the sign between innings because I’m not one to stand up [during game action],” Guzzardo, who moved to Phoenix from Chicago in 1986 to take a job as the executive director of the Valley of the Sun YMCA, told the radio station. “I’ve got my binoculars. I’m a baseball fan. I love to watch the players. I love to watch the umpires. I like to get right down there and see the action and see what’s going on. I had no idea a camera caught me on it. I didn’t hear about it until I got home and I watched the replay.”

Game 3 of the NLCS was only the second Diamondbacks game at Chase Field that Guzzardo, who is retired and spends his summers in San Diego, attended this year. During the on-field celebration after Arizona stunned the Phillies in Game 7 at Citizens Bank Park to clinch their first trip to the World Series since 2001, TBS cameras showed a different fan holding a “Snakes Alive” sign in the stands behind home plate. In the visiting clubhouse, Banister emerged from the celebration in a beer-soaked T-shirt bearing the phrase. Diamondbacks third baseman Evan Longoria wore the same shirt after Saturday’s 9-1 win in Game 2 of the World Series at Texas’s Globe Life Field.

“We love our fans, their creativity and for believing in us,” a Diamondbacks spokesperson told The Washington Post. As of Friday, the team hadn’t decided if it would hand out “Snakes Alive” signs or incorporate the phrase in other ways as part of its in-game presentation during Arizona’s World Series home games beginning with Monday’s Game 3.

Guzzardo has a ticket to Tuesday’s Game 4 and plans to bring a freshly printed “Snakes Alive” sign. He misplaced the original on his way home from Game 3 of the NLCS after stopping at his son’s fire station for dinner.

“It’s somewhere,” Guzzardo told KMVP. “After the ballgame was over, I went over to Engine 6 where my son works. I just put it in my briefcase. I got home, and it wasn’t in my briefcase. I may have left it at the station. I have no plans for it. It was just a sign.”

For the Diamondbacks and their fans, though, it has become a rallying cry. With the World Series tied at a game apiece, these snakes are most definitely alive.


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