By Corey Gottlieb / MLB.comTo draw a straight line connecting Jacoby Ellsbury's basestealing abilities to the multicultural ties of Alice McCabe might be a bit of a mathematical presumption, but its metaphorical precision is inarguable.
McCabe, grandmother to Jacoby and mother to 15 of her own children, was a member of a clan called the Tachiinii, which means "red running into water" (an apt description for Ellsbury's activities between the bags). Perhaps not ironically, it is said that the leadoff man's great-great grandfather was known as "Antelope Feet," which all but seals the deal as far as the rookie outfielder's fleet-footed pedigree is concerned.
According to Jacoby's mother, Margie McCabe, it was at times a measure of agility that linked the boy to his grandmother in practice as well as in name: On trips to visit Alice in Arizona, Ellsbury was adept at tying rubber bands to the tails of baby lambs, a task known as "docking" that eventually causes the tail to fall off as the animal ages.
"Jacoby's brother was the one sheering the sheep," says Margie, "but it was Jacoby who would always do the rubber-banding. He really got to know his grandmother on those trips."
It is Margie who seems to have picked up where Alice McCabe left off, working alongside Jacoby's aunts to instill in the rising star both a sense of humility and pride in his Navajo roots.
Alice's 10th born, Margie is a special education teacher who works at the Head Start School on the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs reservation in Warm Springs, Ore. Jacoby is undoubtedly Head Start's most famed alumnus to date, and the school found a special way to thank him last year, designing a banner which was carried by both Margie and her sister Sylvia across the country to Fenway Park.
Like the woman who raised her, Ellsbury's mother has stayed close to home in more ways than one, and has made a point of assuring the public that Jacoby remains connected to the Warm Springs community.
Just to be sure that her sister's claims don't go unsubstantiated, Emily McCabe -- another one of Jacoby's aunts -- has created a Web site that brings news of the Sox speedster's activities to Navajos across the country -- well, not exactly. Initially developed as a forum through which the McCabes' extended family could share personal anecdotes, the site has evolved into a veritable Jacoby Watch.
And while the family may have ended up with more readers than they bargained for, Emily McCabe's pet project has only served as confirmation of a growing reality: Jacoby Ellsbury is inspiring his community to, naturally, red run into water.
And why shouldn't he be? After all, he has himself been the product of much inspiration.
Corey Gottlieb is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.