Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jacoby Ellsbury

This guy's mom used to sleep in my bedroom!

When I got married, there was room for one more, and she became a new daughter to my folks. She's Navajo, and grew up on a reservation in Arizona, but came to Salt Lake City to live during the school year. She stayed with my family from September to June every year when she was a teenager. Even while she attended the university, she treated our house as her home, and came to stay weekends and vacations.

She was a talented artist, and won a Sterling Scholar award in art. She knew traditional American Indian sign language, too. In exquisite Navajo dress, enhanced by her long, glossy black hair, she performed a ballet-type dance, signing the words of The Lord's Prayer, while my sister sang the words. It was stunning and moving, and they were much in demand for various events.

She graduated from our high school, and went on to graduate from college. She married and moved to a different state, where she has raised her sons. My parents were always in touch, and mentioned her often, but since they died, I haven't kept up with her too much. Until I started seeing her son on TV!

My dad, a life-long sports nut, had a soft spot for his foster daughter, so it's fitting that she produced the pro-ball player he always hoped for. If he were alive, he'd have figured out some way to be at every game. I expect there's a special dispensation for angels to attend important family events. Dad might be skipping the dance reviews and the piano recitals of his great-grandkids, but for sure he's at the World Series this year.

I wonder how it feels to be a baseball mom in the Big Leagues. I used to sit on the bleachers in an emotional upheaval when I had kids. I had a daughter who was the only girl on her Little League Team and three sons who played. I couldn't stand it if my kid was on the bench. But having them on the field was just as bad.

One time my son was hit in the head with a line drive, which knocked him right down. I was out on the grass in seconds flat, embarrassing him with my concern. Barely conscious, he whispered through gritted teeth, "Get off the field, mom."

I knew my kids prayed for the chance to catch the winning fly ball, or hit the winning home run. I got nauseous thinking of the dropped fly ball, or the losing strike out.

Miggs wanted to pitch. His coach hadn't recognized his skills in this area, so he'd never had the chance. During one game, they went through four boys playing pitch, and finally Miggs got his wish. He raced over to tell us the great news. After taking the mound, he did the wind up he'd been practicing for years, and threw the ball he hadn't practiced as often. He threw ball after ball, walking several batters in a row, helping the other team score a few runs and take the lead. Parents around me were cursing the coach for leaving this guy in, and my stomach was lurching with every throw. Finally, the umpire called out, "STRIKE!" Micah was ecstatic! He took off his hat, waved it to the crowd, and took a bow.

He went on to break his arm during the game when his school took state. He was on the bottom of the pile up after the big win. Needless to say, I was glad when our baseball career was over. I couldn't handle the pressure.

Every time Jacoby swings his bat, or runs for a fly ball my heart stops as I think of his mom. Time and again he makes the play, and even when he strikes out, he sure looks smooth, with his mother's flashing eyes. It has made the baseball season especially fun for our family. Ellsbury doesn't know any of us, but all over the country we're yelling, "Jacoby's in the starting line-up." and "Your cousin's up!" I chuckled when Dee said, "Hey, OUR nephew just hit a double!" I'm proud to be related, even in a non-related way. I've got butterflies in my stomach for his mom.


Annie said...

This is so great to know! My kids were thrilled when I just told them that McKay and Chase's grandma knows Jacoby's mom (yeah, we are on a first-name basis in this Boston-area household). One of them asked hopefully if this meant we could get tickets to the games now. Do you think that would hold water at Fenway?

kenju said...

It is apparent that knowing them has enriched your family.

Joy Des Jardins said...

What a wonderful memory for you Marty. Jacoby's mom must be riding pretty high right now. I'm sitting here half watching and half listening to the baseball game right now. This could be exciting for the Ellsbury family and for all of them. Nice post Marty.

mama jo said...

he's achieved great things in his young life...margie must be so proud.

Kelly said...

i think we're all claiming the famous cousin now!

gab said...

Yay Red Sox!

Polly said...

It has been fun watching and to see them win the world series! I agree that Dad must be in heaven over this (Oh, I guess he all ready is) It's been a fun baseball season. I told Taylor the other night that he met Jacoby (when he was 9 months) old and Jacoby was probably 12! He was thrilled!

Walker Family said...

and hey, because of him, America gets a free taco tomorrow!

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

We, too, are pretending we're now best friends with Jacoby. He sure played good this week! Go SOX!