Delino DeShields On Connecting With Fans And Staying Ready
Cleveland outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. was already embracing social media as a way to share a behind-the-scenes look at life in the majors before the coronavirus shut down sports. That has only upped DeShields’ efforts.
Both individually and as part of Easton’s Stay Ready campaign, the major leaguer has been adamant about connecting. “I just want to use my platform to reach out to kids, to people, and I had a moment when I kind of felt like I wasn’t utilizing my platform to the most I could,” he says. “I want to be a part of creating a different culture in our sport. That is the reason I am getting more involved.”
As part of the Easton Stay Ready effort, which has been a mixture of DeShields’ ideas with Easton’s, he wanted to connect with both the baseball and softball communities to share what he is doing to stay ready while “encouraging kids that are in our position right now to stay motivated.”
“I’m all about it,” DeShields says. “This is the situation we are in right now and it’s cool to connect and show people what we are doing to stay ready to play as many games as we can.”
When the season does start, don’t expect DeShields to step back from his social media presence. He hopes he can be part of a group that encourages other ballplayers to get more involved in sharing the life in the major leagues, similar to what already happens in other sports.
“We don’t have pictures of us walking into the clubhouse with our clothes and stuff, there is not a lot of day-in-the-life stuff of players,” he says. “A lot of it is us not taking it into our own hands and doing it, which is why I have been just embracing it. I am not trying to change the entire culture of the game, but it takes a collective effort and if (players) see others do it, they will naturally gravitate toward it. You see in the NBA and NFL it is a collective effort and that is why it works and is successful.”
While DeShields wants to shine light on life off the field, he also wants to use his platform to pay homage and celebrate the Negro Leagues, hoping the 100th anniversary of the league can help inspire African American youth.
“I think that especially with the population of African Americans going down in the sport, if I’m a young Black kid and I’m on the fence on what I want to do athletically and I realize that in baseball my people had their own league, there is not another sport that has done that,” he says. “I feel like that would inspire me to play.”
DeShields, who grew up in the game with his father playing in MLB, says Negro League players were his idols growing up. Even if he never was able to watch them play, he still read about them and heard stories from his dad. “Given it is the 100-year anniversary and something I am passionate about and has surrounded my life forever, I think it is important for people to know who they are, especially in my community. I think it can inspire, even if it is just one kid or two kids, it can make a big impact in changing the direction for an African American.”
While DeShields doesn’t want to give away all his secrets of what he has planned to help bring awareness and commemorate the anniversary, expect a mix of things from him both on and off the field.
And while he’s waiting to get back on the field, DeShields is using this time to work on staying in shape while exploring his own interests. With a rooftop at his Texas home, he has a workout setup that includes a punching bag, tires and “all sorts of stuff to keep my body ready.” He also has a tee and hitter’s net to make sure he is staying sharp.
“It can get pretty mundane doing the same thing over and over again, so it is nice to have different things and switch it up with the resources you have,” he says. “I am just being creative and finding ways to stay sharp and not really lose that many steps so that when this gets going, I can hop right in.”
In his off time, DeShields is spending more time with his on-and-off hobby of playing the guitar and has spent more time reading, including plenty of motivational content, Christian books and “whatever is good.” He’s enjoying a mix, from Tim Grover’s Relentless to Chop Wood Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf and a mixture of books from The Alchemist author Paulo Coelho.
From reading to working out, DeShields plans to stay ready and connect with fans while doing it.
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.