Dansby Swanson is spilling his guts about Vanderbilt Baseball. It's every bit the glowing review you thought it would be.
The second-team All-SEC shortstop (and first overall pick in the MLB Draft, 2014 College World Series Most Outstanding Player, future shampoo spokesman, etc) took to The Players' Tribune on Friday to talk about how Vanderbilt molded him into the athlete he is today. Swanson, who just signed a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks that included a $6.5 million signing bonus, counted his time at the university as the biggest catalyst to his success.
Last week, I signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, fulfilling a lifelong dream to play in the Majors. It was a crazy week. But I have to say, my mind instantly jumped back to Nashville. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my experience at Vanderbilt. I wanted to write down some of my memories and thank the people who helped me get to where I am today.
Swanson isn't just following the footsteps of guys like Gray and Alvarez in the field. He's also continuing their legacy of carrying the Vanderbilt banner and selling the program to recruits. Swanson leads off with an anecdote about getting tips from an MLB All-Star in the batting cage, and describes the presence of MLB stars in the locker room as a common occurrence in Tim Corbin's program. Based on what we know about David Price's continual trips to Nashville and public cheerleading of the team, it almost certainly is.
That's a major tool on the recruiting trail. Other schools can offer winning programs and a tradition of excellence, but Vanderbilt bolsters their recent success on the diamond with a camaraderie that few teams can emulate. For Swanson, those relationships expanded beyond the people who pulled black and gold jerseys over their chests every February.
Vandy baseball is family to me. It’s not just a family of 35 players. It’s Coach Corbin and the whole coaching staff. It’s the equipment managers, trainers and media team. It’s the fans in their late 70s who have had season tickets for 40 years and it’s the kids who bring gloves to catch foul balls at our home games.
If you've got a spare moment, check out the full post over at The Players' Tribune. Swanson's essay is a heartfelt thank you to the Vanderbilt community, but it never reads like a goodbye. That's because he knows that he, like Price and Alvarez before him, isn't really leaving. Once you're a #VandyBoy, you're a #VandyBoy for life. He'll be back in Nashville for offseasons and All-Star breaks, putting another link in the chain that Corbin started more than a decade earlier.