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Ellsbury Making History
The Daily Times ^ | 10/20/07 | PATRICK RONAN

Posted on 10/23/2007 5:28:49 PM PDT by #1CTYankee

FARMINGTON, N.M. — Nearly six decades ago, Franklin McCabe took the road less traveled. Today, his grandson, Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, does the same.

Ellsbury is the first Navajo player to ever don a Major League Baseball uniform. A skilled fielder, base runner and hitter, his .353 batting average in 33 regular season games led the Red Sox.

And now, after playing most of the season in the minor leagues, he’s been chasing a World Series championship.

Like McCabe, who called the Navajo reservation home for years, Ellsbury put it all on the line in the name of hard work and dedication. Their focus, built on a proud Navajo heritage, was similar; one’s path is determined by his own actions. He is to stand up for what he loves and pursue his passion.

As Ellsbury sat in the dugout at Fenway Park in Boston in late September, he summed up his journey: “This whole process, every little thing that has happened in my life ... has made me what I am today,” Ellsbury said, glancing into the outfield toward the menacing Green Monster in left field.

That big, green wall looks so intimidating and indestructible from afar. But Jacoby battles that wall every day.

At only 24, he works the field for the Red Sox. And, in about a month on the big stage, Ellsbury’s contributions have been felt far beyond Boston. Ellsbury, like his grandfather, made the climb and conquered the wall.

Following a two-year stint in Germany during World War II, McCabe returned to Ganado, Ariz., on the Navajo reservation to a wife and children.

Prior to the war, McCabe married Alice Curley, of the Tachiinii tribe, in the 1930s. The pair raised 15 children together. McCabe worked as an artist and surveyor as Alice tended to the homestead. In her spare time, Alice was a shepherd with a knack for weaving.

While McCabe served overseas, the reservation suffered a severe work shortage. By the time he returned, no irrigation systems remained for farming. The only way to make a living was raising sheep and cattle, a far less lucrative venture than a prospering, small plantation.

McCabe had a wife and, at the time, two children to provide for. The proud father wanted his kids to have the best educational opportunities, which required a life-altering move.

In 1949, the McCabe family moved to Parker, Ariz, a transition that prompted most of the family to relinquish its Navajo membership and join the Colorado Indian Tribes in the ’60s. The move from the reservation to Parker, Ariz. strained the kindred, especially Alice, who left behind many friends and family, including her mother, Nellie Curley Nez.

“It was very hard for my mother,” said Emily McCabe Allison, Alice’s sixth born. “But (Parker) gave opportunities for Navajos to settle on 80 acres and grow farms.”

Tragically, Franklin McCabe was killed in a car accident in May 1973. Thus, Jacoby Ellsbury never met his grandfather.

Marjorie McCabe Ellsbury was the 10th child born into the McCabe clan. After moving around during early adulthood, including a stint in Farmington, Margie moved to Warm Springs, Ore., in 1980.

While in the Northwest, Margie became a school teacher, with a focus in special education. She also met her husband, Jim Ellsbury, of English and German descent. Ellsbury worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Warm Springs reservation.

The couple married in 1983 in Parker, giving Margie’s mother an opportunity to witness the union in person.

On Sept. 11, 1983, the Ellsburys welcomed their first-born to the world, a baby boy they named Jacoby. Margie gave birth to three more boys in the next nine years Matt, Tyler and Spencer.

While visiting the Four Corners in New Mexico, Jacoby spent time with Art and Emily McCabe Allison, his uncle and aunt. The Ellsburys’ visits to the Four Corners provided opportunities for Jacoby and his brothers to take part in athletic endeavors. And no other sport dominated the area’s schoolyards like baseball.

“It’s balmy here. It’s sunny 365 days a year,” Art Allison said. “That gave him a lot of time to play baseball.“

Back in Oregon, Jacoby attended Madras High School where he instantly became a local superstar. He competed in track, football, basketball and baseball a shining standout in each.

But the success didn’t go to Jacoby’s head. It wasn’t how he was raised.

“He’s the real shy type,” Emily said. “Not once did he talk about himself. He was always quiet.”

Ellsbury turned down an offer from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays during his senior year of high school, electing to play for Oregon State, where he played three seasons, leading the Beavers to the College World Series in 2005.

Chosen 23rd overall during the 2005 draft, the Sox granted Ellsbury a $1.4 million signing bonus just for writing his name. Not bad for a 22-year-old.

“Here’s a young superstar, but here’s also a kid who we’ve seen growing up,” uncle Art said. “He was an instant millionaire in college ... I mean, my goodness.”

Jacoby stormed through the Red Sox minor league system within two seasons. He dazzled fans with his base-stealing and impressed coaches with a maturity seldom seen at his age.

On June 30, 2007, Jacoby made his first appearance on the big league stage, starting in center field for the Red Sox as they battled the Texas Rangers.

As a member of the Colorado Indian Tribes, and born an American Indian of Navajo descent, he was the first of his kind.

What could come as a surprise to many fans, though, is that Jacoby was unaware of his historical status while breaking into the big leagues.

“I didn’t know (of being the first Navajo) until I found out in the paper,” Jacoby said. “I think it’s pretty neat. I’m surprised there hasn’t been one before.”

Jacoby never tracked his status or followed his career from an outsider’s perspective. He remained focused while fine-tuning his craft.

And most important, he remained true to his family.

“He loves his family,” Emily Allison said. “When we’re with him, he’s right there in the group. He’s not separated from us. I don’t think he’ll ever be that way. That’s just the way he was taught.”

TOPICS: Sports
Starting in Center field for the Boston Red Sox, a much better choice than Coco.
1 posted on 10/23/2007 5:28:50 PM PDT by #1CTYankee
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To: Ol' Sparky; nutmeg; UlmoLordOfWaters; GraniteStateConservative; JimWforBush; Semper911; ...


2 posted on 10/23/2007 5:31:33 PM PDT by #1CTYankee (That's right, I have no proof. So what of it??)
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To: Lil'freeper

He will make much wampum in his career.

3 posted on 10/23/2007 5:31:50 PM PDT by big'ol_freeper ("Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not." ~ Thomas Jefferson)
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To: #1CTYankee

I love this kid. The sky’s the limit for him !!!

4 posted on 10/23/2007 5:36:24 PM PDT by Obie Wan
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To: #1CTYankee

Oregon State has won back-t0-back NCAA CWS championships.

They will be loaded again next year.

5 posted on 10/23/2007 5:49:39 PM PDT by SeaHawkFan
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To: #1CTYankee

A 9/11 birth, huh?

6 posted on 10/23/2007 6:04:26 PM PDT by GraniteStateConservative (...He had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here...-- Worst.President.Ever.)
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To: Obie Wan
"I love this kid. The sky’s the limit for him !!!"

Me too, this kid is going to be a great ball player.

7 posted on 10/23/2007 6:10:02 PM PDT by #1CTYankee (That's right, I have no proof. So what of it??)
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To: GraniteStateConservative
"A 9/11 birth, huh?"

Wow, didn't notice that, maybe it's a sign of a ballplayer/patriot.

8 posted on 10/23/2007 6:12:28 PM PDT by #1CTYankee (That's right, I have no proof. So what of it??)
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To: #1CTYankee
...the first Navajo player to ever don a Major League Baseball uniform.

And the point of this piece is what?

Keeping racism alive in America.

9 posted on 10/24/2007 1:53:40 AM PDT by Rudder
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To: #1CTYankee
Hear, hear! He makes a big impact on the team with his offense and speed.

Thanks for the ping—very interesting article.

10 posted on 10/24/2007 6:35:30 AM PDT by UlmoLordOfWaters
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To: Rudder

Wait until next year, when Ellsbury replaces Coco Crisp. There will be a real firestorm from the Boston Globe and the Boston elitist when the Red Sox have no “African-American” players on their roster. The media went wild in 2005, when the Astros showed up at the World Series without any “African-American” players.

11 posted on 10/25/2007 12:09:24 AM PDT by dancusa (For liberals there is no end to their rights and no beginning to their responsibilities.)
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