|Red Sox rookie star Jacoby Ellsbury gets hometown hero's welcome|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 17 November 2007 15:52|
``I need a basketball,'' the 24-year-old Ellsbury said before wading into the roaring crowd that filled the gym of Madras High School, where the newly minted big-league star lettered in basketball, football, track and baseball.
``Yeah, but there were never this many people,'' high school teammate Jake Jaca reminded him before a grinning Ellsbury started shaking hands and waving to the crowd of 3,000, many decked out in Red Sox hats and shirts.
Ellsbury, widely believed to be the first Navajo player in major league history, was born and raised in this small farming town in the Oregon high desert. His mother, Marjorie Ellsbury, moved here from her home in Arizona to become a special education teacher for the nearby Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs.
Here she met Jim Ellsbury, a forester for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, and they raised four sons, of which Jacoby is the oldest. He is an enrolled member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes in Arizona.
``I'm really proud of Jacoby, coming out of the Navajo Nation,'' said Ken Man, a member of the Warm Springs tribes who called the radio play-by-play of Ellsbury's high school basketball games. ``He could have been in the NBA, too, he's that good.''
Though the day was rainy, the sun broke out just long enough for Ellsbury to sit on the back deck of a black Corvette convertible for a parade through town, where the sidewalks were packed with cheering fans.
``The parade in Boston was amazing, but this is even better,'' he told the crowd.
Drafted by the Red Sox in the first round in 2005 out of Oregon State University, Ellsbury started 2007 with Double-A Portland, and moved up to Triple-A Pawtucket before being called up to Boston to fill in for injured center fielder Coco Crisp in June.
When slugger Manny Ramirez pulled a muscle in his side in August, Ellsbury took over left field. He hit .353 with three home runs, 18 RBIs and went 9-for-9 in stolen bases in 116 at-bats.
With the Red Sox down three games to one in the American League Championship Series and Crisp slumping, manager Terry Francona put Ellsbury back in, and he helped the Sox win seven straight games, including a World Series sweep of Colorado. During the World Series he collected 16 hits, second only to rookie Dustin Pedroia.