ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields' father was a Major League infielder for 13 seasons whose list of accomplishments includes 463 stolen bases. His mother was an All-American track and field athlete at the University of Tennessee who qualified for the 1992 Olympics. Even his sister Diamond was a star
ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields' father was a Major League infielder for 13 seasons whose list of accomplishments includes 463 stolen bases. His mother was an All-American track and field athlete at the University of Tennessee who qualified for the 1992 Olympics. Even his sister Diamond was a star basketball player at Tennessee who has played professionally in Turkey.
But according to DeShields, that's not why he is one of the fastest players in the Major Leagues. DeShields said his speed came from Buddy, his first personal trainer.
Buddy is also the best Christmas present DeShields ever received while growing up in the Atlanta area.
"He was a black lab," DeShields said. "He was my first dog. I might have been nine. We always had the gifts and all of that stuff at Christmas, but that dog was everything to me. Probably the fondest memory I can remember."
Just to understand what Buddy meant to him, consider the name. Buddy was named after a grandfather that DeShields never knew.
"I named him after my grandfather who passed away," DeShields said. "I never knew him. He passed away when my mom was young. Buddy is not with us anymore, but that was pretty neat for me, to have my first dog named after my grandfather."
Doesn't every boy want a dog for Christmas?
"I always wanted a dog growing up," DeShields said. "We lived on three acres of property. It was fun for me to go outside and play. I would take my tennis ball and throw it and chase it with Buddy. That's where I got my speed from. Yeah, he was my first personal trainer.
"I do have a soft spot for dogs. I have a dog now; I've always had dogs. I don't know if it is a comfort thing, but they have always been good for me. I've been lucky to have well-behaved dogs. As long as I have well-behaved dogs, I'm good."
The memory of Buddy is part of why DeShields is the person he is. He is a superb and accomplished athlete, but he also has strong bonds with his family. His father is now first-base coach for the Reds and remains his son's biggest mentor. DeShields has honored his father in each of the past two years with the name on the back of his jersey during Players' Weekend.
DeShields lives in Dallas during the offseason so that he can work out with his teammates at the Texas Rangers Youth Academy, but he is looking forward to being with his family in Georgia during Christmas.
"It will be great to have all the family there together," DeShields said. "We are all so busy, the holidays are about the only time we can be together. It will be great."
DeShields currently has an American bulldog, Blu, so he won't need another pet as a Christmas gift. But there is something he wants to find under his tree this year. He wants to be the Rangers' starting center fielder again.
"I want it all," DeShields said. "Give it all to me. That would be a great Christmas."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.