July 09, 2007

Ellsbury and other Indian ballplayers

Talent from the tribeThere have been a handful of successful pro ball players with American Indian roots—Johnny Bench is one-eighth Choctaw—but the last great Native, with at least one-quarter link to a tribe, was Allie Reynolds, who finished his career with the New York Yankees in 1954.

Nicknamed the "Superchief," Reynolds appeared in seven All-Star games during stints with the Yankees and Cleveland Indians.

The only Native inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame was Albert "Chief" Bender. The hurler won over 200 games on the mound and led the Philadelphia Athletics to five World Series titles during the early 1900s.
The latest Indian to join them:Jacoby McCabe Ellsbury, who was called up by the Boston Red Sox late last week, joins a limited list of American Indian men who've played the game, but the small numbers were never an obstacle throughout his journey to the big leagues.

"He never really thought about it," Emily McCabe Allison, Jacoby's aunt, said. "He is just proud of who he is. He has unique talents and he let nothing stand in his way. I think whether you're Native or not, it's possible to do whatever you want."

Strong morals and work ethic were instilled into Ellsbury's character at an early age. He has a lot of respect and pride for his ancestry, thanks to the education passed on to him.

"His mother taught him well," Allison said. "She taught him the native tongue. He can speak Navajo.

"He even knows how to sing some Navajo songs," she added with a laugh.
Ellsbury the role model:Ellsbury's status as the first, and only, Navajo ballplayer in the pro circuit presents him as a role model to the Reservation's young athletes. It's a position he's more than willing to accept.

"He takes it seriously," Jaboby's mother, Marge McCabe Ellsbury, said. "He's talked to some of the youth during the Arizona Fall League. They see him as a guy who tried hard, got good grades and worked at his sport. He sees himself as a role model, and is always trying to do his best."

With a disturbing amount of professional athletes making headlines because of off-the-field controversies, Ellsbury lives a lifestyle that all youngsters should follow, according to his aunt.

"One thing hard amongst today's kids is alcoholism and drugs," Allison said. "It prohibits them from reaching their goals. Coby has been raised real well. He's very careful and very focused."
Native American Prospect Has Red Sox Fans BuzzingEllsbury’s mother, Margie, is Navajo. His father, Jim, is Caucasian and works for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Ellsbury was born on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Oregon and lived there for about six years before his family moved to the town of Madras, Ore. He also lived briefly on a Navajo reservation in Arizona while his family cared for his ailing grandmother.

Ellsbury is a member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, which includes the Mohave, the Chemehuevi, the Hopi and the Navajo. He says he can understand Navajo better than he can speak it, but is intent on immersing himself more in his native culture and mastering the language.

“I know there are a lot of Native Americans who are interested in how I’m doing,” he said. “I definitely have a following and am proud of my heritage and am trying to set a good example for my community. I know there are not a lot of Native American athletes. I am trying to be a role model on and off the field.”

1 comment:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Hey, Rob! Get all of us Ellsbury's rookie card, PLEASE!!
All Best
Russ Bates