Deb Brocklebank is one person who could always picture Jacoby Ellsbury in a Red Sox uniform. In the summer of 2004, she and her husband Steve opened their home and hearts to the now well-known rookie who played for the Falmouth Commodores and spent the summer doing laundry and field work for the team.
Deb Brocklebank is one person who could always picture Jacoby Ellsbury in a Red Sox uniform.
In the summer of 2004, she and her husband Steve opened their home and hearts to the now well-known rookie who played for the Falmouth Commodores and spent the summer doing laundry and field work for the team.
“He was in the last group to be released from Team USA. They sent them home and Jacoby flew all night. We picked him up on July 1 at Christine Clark’s house [Falmouth Commodores’ vice president and housing chairwoman] and he was exhausted.
“He looked like the last kid to be picked up from the birthday party, but then the next day he stole a base and hit a triple.”
Instead of dwelling in the disappointment of being cut, Brocklebank says Ellsbury took full advantage of the opportunity to improve his game.
“He has an incredible work ethic and was extremely focused from the beginning. He knew why he was here and he wanted to get the most out of the experience. He wasn’t here to have fun. He took it as a chance to play serious baseball.
“He’d come home from a game and sit and watch the Red Sox with Steve, really studying the games. They were like two peas in a pod.”
The Brocklebanks also got a chance to witness the person behind the player.
“Jacoby came home one day from practice and our 3-year-old nephew was here. He idolized Jacoby and even back then he thought Jacoby played for the Red Sox. Ryan asked Jacoby to play Wiffle Ball and Jacoby must have spent about 45 minutes pitching to him,” Deb says.
“He took him so seriously, you wouldn’t think he was talking to a toddler. He said to him, ‘I think we found your sweet spot,’ and Ryan was so excited. The two of them came in the house and a few minutes later, Ryan was on the couch curled up in Jacoby’s lap.”
Ellsbury also demonstrated his kindness after a game in Pawtucket one night.
“We took him out to dinner and there was a boy in a wheelchair at the restaurant. His father told Jacoby the boy was a big fan of his so Jacoby went to talk to him. He gave him an autographed ball and posed for pictures with the family. When we were leaving Jacoby joked to him, ‘Now I better not see that on eBay tomorrow,’ and they all laughed.”
Over the past few years the Brocklebanks have followed Ellsbury’s success, staying in close contact with him and going to see him play in Oregon, Lowell, Pawtucket and finally Boston.
“We went to see him after he was first called up to Boston. We wore our Oregon State orange so he’d notice us and when he saw us he flashed that winning Jacoby smile.”
The Brocklebanks have also opened their home to Ellsbury’s family, who has stayed with them a few times since his call-up.
“We were at the game with his family when he hit his first home run. It was so exciting and so great to be able to share it with them.”
They were also privy to the last game of the season and Games 6 and 7 of the ALCS.
“Jacoby got us tickets for Game 7 and when he made that catch in center field, I just started crying. It’s overwhelming, you’re just so proud because he’s part of your family, it’s your kid out there.”
When talking about Ellsbury, Deb can’t help but speak with a mother’s pride.
“He’s such a unique player. He brings so much energy to the game in areas you wouldn’t expect. His speed is incredible, but how he uses it is just as impressive.
“When they announced that America’s Taco contest I said to Steve, ‘Our boy’s going to win that,’ and sure enough, he did,” Deb says.
But Brocklebank is most proud of the person.
“We just adore him and think the world of him. He’s had some disappointments but he’s turned them into successes. He’s worked so hard and he’s got such a great heart. He bought a house for his parents and built one for his two brothers who are going to school in Corvallis.
“He’s the kind of kid, or young man, I should say, who you want to root for. He deserves all the good things that have happened to him and you just want more good to come his way.”
The Brocklebanks have hosted other players since their first summer with Ellsbury and like most mothers she doesn’t play favorites.
“They’re all special,” Deb says, “but right now it’s Jacoby’s time.”