Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin remembered one of his first conversations with junior shortstop Dansby Swanson.
Swanson was a freshman Corbin recruited from Marietta (Ga.) High School. It was early in the fall semester when Swanson went into Corbin’s office.
Swanson had something on his mind, something he wanted Corbin to know.
“He said in the most innocent way, ‘I want to be the best player that ever played at Vanderbilt,’ ‘’ Corbin said on Memorial Day, the day the Commodores found out their first NCAA Regional opponent would be against cross-town rival, Lipscomb.
“It wasn’t in a bragging way. He said it in a very goal oriented way.’’
Dansby Swanson is one of the best shortstops Vanderbilt has had under Corbin’s years on campus. He might not leave as the best player the Commodores ever had, but his name will be deep in the conversation.
Tim Corbin knows he had the honor of coaching Dansby Swanson, the shortstop and Dansby Swanson, the person.
“He does everything top shelf – academics, social skills, picking up (batting practice) buckets, just serving other people,’’ Corbin said. “When you’re a teammate of a kid like that, and he gets attention like that, sometimes there is jealousy that can exist. It’s just normal. If we might be jealous of a guy like that, it’s Dansby. He’s on TV all the time.’’
Corbin and his wife Maggie were watching SEC Tournament TV games at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover last week.
“We’d say, holy cow. Is this the SEC Network or the Dansby Swanson network?’’ Corbin laughed. “He was on quite a bit.’’
Corbin appreciates everything Swanson brings to the plate. There are no holes in his game, as he leads the team in eight offensive categories including batting average (.351), runs (67), hits (83), doubles, triples, total bases and slugging percentage (.439).
You compare Swanson’s numbers to LSU junior shortstop Alex Bregman’s and you have to wonder how Bregman was named first team All-SEC shortstop and Swanson had to settle for second team.
But those are numbers. Corbin will miss being around Swanson every day. Almost every major league scout has Swanson going in the top five picks in the June amateur draft. One TV talking head predicted Swanson would be the No. 1 pick.
“That’s just one person’s opinion and he’s not the one really making any decisions,’’ Swanson said. “I try not to think about it, because right now there’s more important things to be had and that’s winning. That’s what we’re going to do.’’
Corbin knows these are the final weeks for a number of Commodores who will turn pro. Swanson is one of them.
“It’s too bad these kids aren’t in your life longer. You get three years and they’re gone. That stinks,’’ Corbin said. He’s a tremendous kid. Everything about him is good.’’
High on Corbin’s list of why Swanson has turned into the All-American baseball player and young man is his parents’ approach to parenting. Let’s just say they are not imposing, whiny Little League parents, that make coaches cringe by trying to live their failed athletic dreams through their kids.
“He’s got a good set of parents. That’s where it comes from. They leave him alone,’’ Corbin said. “They let him have this experience without hovering over him. I never hear from them. Perfect! Perfect! Let’s do it that way. No phone calls.
“Give me your son and I’ll give him back to you, hopefully a little bit better than when he arrived,’’ Corbin said.
“He’s a helluva kid,’’ he added. “Boy, he’s something special.’’
Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at email@example.com.