CHICAGO – It’s customary for an athlete to make an opening statement at a news conference when that person signs with a new team.
Dansby Swanson was no different, and the one he delivered at Wrigley Field was quite emotional as he discussed a big reason why he’s decided to leave his hometown Atlanta Braves for the Chicago Cubs.
Shortly after receiving his No. 7 jersey from Cubs president Jed Hoyer after signing a seven-year, $177 million deal with the club, the shortstop decided to share a story concerning his family.
Appearing emotional while starting to deliver it, Swanson shared that the day after marrying Chicago Red Stars forward Mallory Pugh earlier in December, he had to make an immediate visit to see his grandfather, whose health had taken a turn for the worst.
“So we pretty much left our wedding venue the next morning, drove home, and basically had to rush over to the senior living facility where he was at,” said Swanson.
He would end up passing away soon after, and with the 2022 All-Star and Gold Glove winner still deciding which team to join, his thoughts went to his grandfather. That included a mention of WGN-TV and the many Cubs’ broadcasts that appeared on Channel 9 through the years in Swanson’s hometown of Kennesaw, Georgia.
“The one thing that just always stood out was that he lived across the yard from my parents and I and my brother and sister. So every day when I would come home from school, I would run up to his house, I’d run in, and pretty much demand that he come outside and hit me ground balls, which he would always do,” said Swanson. “Every time I’d walk in, he’d have a Cubs game on, back when it was on WGN. I was always like ‘Pops, we’re in Atlanta, dude, we’re braves fans.’
“He loved baseball so much and all he ever wanted me to be was doing what I’m doing now.”
Swanson has done so the past seven seasons as a member of the Braves, winning the World Series in 2021. While there were a number of factors that went into the shortstop’s signing with the Cubs, the thought of going to his grandfather’s entered his mind as well.
“So having won a championship in Atlanta for one of his favorite teams, we just felt that the Cubs, which were his second favorite team, that bringing a championship to this city was just what we have felt called to do,” said Swanson. “So to be able to play for two of my grandfather’s two favorite teams means literally, like, the world to me.”
Enough that he made it a priority to mention that early on Wednesday.