CLEVELAND — Delino DeShields is pretty much a stranger to Northeast Ohio. Sure, he played here before when he was with the Texas Rangers, but he’s never really spent much time in the area. Now that he knows he'll be playing at Progressive Field this season, he's quickly trying to make up for that.
Journey to The Land
Sports run in the family. His father is former MLB second baseman and current Cincinnati Reds first base coach Delino DeShields Sr. His sister Diamond DeShields is a shooting guard for the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. It was no surprise he made his way to the big leagues.
Drafted by the Houston Astros in the first round of the 2010 draft, DeShields spent the next four years playing in the minor league system. At the end of 2014, the Rangers selected DeShields from the Astros in the Rule 5 draft, pulling him away from the minor leagues. DeShields spent five seasons with the Rangers, recording 288 runs, 126 RBI, 18 home runs and 106 stolen bases. The Indians acquired DeShields on Dec. 15, 2019, in a trade with the Rangers, sending ace Corey Kluber and cash considerations for the center fielder, as well as relief pitcher Emmanuel Clase.
‘It’s nice to feel wanted’
The trade to Cleveland caught DeShields off-guard. The 27-year-old had never been traded before and said he had just bought a house in Texas the week before.
“I wake up, I’m going through my phone and I’m like ‘Oh, we got Corey Kluber, that’s awesome.’ I went from ‘Oh we’re making moves, this is going to be awesome for us’ and then as I started going through my phone I saw I had a couple missed calls from my agent, a couple missed calls from our general manager—and right when I saw the missed calls from the GM, I knew I was probably a part of that trade,” he said.
He took a few days to reflect on the situation and says he realized that Cleveland was a great destination. The team had expressed interest in him before and had been trying to get him to Cleveland, and the trade with Kluber finally made it happen.
“It got me fired a little bit to come here and really just make my impact on the team and also in the community,” he said.
Already making his mark
As the Rangers’ 2018 Harold McKinney Good Guy Award recipient, it’s no surprise DeShields likes to pay it forward—and just a single day after his flight landed in Cleveland, the center fielder did just that. On Friday, Jan. 31, DeShields hosted a youth baseball clinic at T3 Performance in Avon where he spoke to local youth baseball players, met with fans and gave away equipment and merchandise.
“I just wanted to get my hands in the community as early as I can,” DeShields said. “I feel like it’s my duty as a professional athlete. We’re in a position to give back to the community. I just want to do my part.”
A day after his clinic in Avon, DeShields made a splash at the eighth annual Tribe Fest, signing autographs, taking pictures and showing off his passion for being a Cleveland Indian.
DeShields was the talk of Tribe Fest with his festive custom Indians hat. Tribe players and fans alike complimented his digs, and it created a fun talking point for DeShields to bond with both his fans and his new teammates.
Far too often Cleveland is the butt of the joke in the world of sports. From Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry being told the Dolphins were sending him the Cleveland to die, to former Cavalier J.R. Smith insisting Cleveland was a good city for him because, “There’s nothing, there’s no going out, there are no late nights. There’s video games, basketball and basketball," The Land has not been painted in a great light to professional athletes.
DeShields said he doesn’t know much about Cleveland, other than the lovely weather (cue laughter) but is excited to see what great things the city has to offer.
From checking out breweries to supporting Cleveland’s other teams, DeShields is already sinking his teeth into Cleveland’s culture. DeShields and his teammates, including Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez, hit a Cavs game after Tribe Fest. The center fielder sampled some cold ones at Butcher and the Brewer. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is on his radar for a future trip.
It's worth keeping an eye on DeShields this season, and not just because he has one of the best gloves in the game. Every athlete who comes here and thrives gives less fuel to the haters. Landry and Smith fell in love with the city after coming here, and the city fell in love with them as well. To know Cleveland is to love it. Welcome to The Land, Delino.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.