Skip to comments.Ellsbury Making History
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, hes 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; ones 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, Ellsburys 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, Alices 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 Margies 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 areas schoolyards like baseball.
Its balmy here. Its 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 didnt go to Jacobys head. It wasnt how he was raised.
Hes 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.
Heres a young superstar, but heres also a kid who weve 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 didnt know (of being the first Navajo) until I found out in the paper, Jacoby said. I think its pretty neat. Im surprised there hasnt been one before.
Jacoby never tracked his status or followed his career from an outsiders 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 were with him, hes right there in the group. Hes not separated from us. I dont think hell ever be that way. Thats just the way he was taught.
He will make much wampum in his career.
I love this kid. The sky’s the limit for him !!!
Oregon State has won back-t0-back NCAA CWS championships.
They will be loaded again next year.
A 9/11 birth, huh?
Me too, this kid is going to be a great ball player.
Wow, didn't notice that, maybe it's a sign of a ballplayer/patriot.
And the point of this piece is what?
Keeping racism alive in America.
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.
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