Dellucci broke into the major leagues with the Baltimore Orioles in 1997. He managed just six hits in 27 at-bats, including a home run off Milwaukee’s Cal Eldred on June 25th, but his kamikaze-style outfield play impressed fans and teammates alike. He also caught the eye of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who made him a second-round pick in the November 1997 expansion draft.
Proving that he more than just a gloveman, the left-handed swinging Dellucci batted .260 with 51 RBIs as a rookie during the Diamondbacks’ inaugural season. Despite playing in only 124 games he led the NL with 12 triples, becoming the first rookie to do so since Ray Lankford in 1991. Dellucci was on the way to an even better sophomore season in 1999 (.394 in 63 games) when persistent soreness in his left wrist forced him onto the disabled list in July. He was eventually diagnosed with a rare and career-threatening disorder called Kienbock’s disease that was cutting off the blood flow to his hand. The subsequent surgery sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
Dellucci, who liked to say his middle name is “Prove It”, opened the season with Arizona the following April. He appeared in just 34 games that year, betrayed first by a roster squeeze that sent him back to Triple-A and later by a broken ring finger that put him on the DL for over two months. In 2001 he proved invaluable to the Diamondbacks, both as a defensive replacement and as a key member of the club’s record-setting pinch-hitting corps, batting .333 with five home runs off the bench.
Blessed with matinee idol good looks, Dellucci became a favorite of smitten female fans after joining Arizona. When a reporter asked what was the strangest request a female admirer had made of him, he replied, “It hasn’t been about autographs. It’s been husbands who ask me to meet their wives. That’s uncomfortable for me.” He also became something of a local celebrity, palling around with World Wrestling Federation star Kevin Nash and Megadeath guitarist Dave Mustaine, both fellow Arizona residents. Dellucci met Mustaine after spotting him in the stands and flipping him a foul ball during a 1998 home game. His toss knocked over a nearby soda, however, and wound up soaking his intended target.