A force of good: Q&A with Dansby Swanson
Born in Kennesaw, Georgia, Dansby Swanson is one of the few MLB players who get to play for their hometown team. Some might say that the talented shortstop is living the dream, but making that dream a reality took a lot of hard work and determination. Dansby was initially drafted by Arizona, selected first overall in the 2015 MLB Draft, but was traded to Atlanta later that year. It was destiny, and Dansby is making the most of his opportunities, on and off the field. Learn more about our local superstar below.
What’s your favorite thing about playing baseball?
I’ve been really involved in sports ever since I was a little kid, especially baseball and basketball. I’d honestly say I loved basketball more. It’s just how I operate. When I need peace of mind, I use basketball to find it. But I’ve also always loved baseball and what it teaches. Not everyone gets the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of what we do in the game. I just think it’s fascinating.
How old were you when you first began playing, and when did you fall in love with the game?
I started playing baseball as a kid, though I didn’t really focus on it until I got to college—that’s when it clicked. I started to get better and better and better. I’d always been undersized, and as I began to develop as a player, my confidence started going through the roof, and I knew that was what I was called to do. So that’s what shifted everything—I always put my head down and worked. It’s been a blessing that I’ve been able to keep that mindset going forward.
Who has influenced you most in your career?
I’d say my dad is the one person I’ve always leaned on, who’s taught me everything that I know. Between him and my college coach, Coach Corbin, and my high school baseball coach, James Beaver, those are my biggest influences.
What lessons have you learned on and off the field that you would like to share with others?
Nothing replaces hard work. People want to find the easier ways to do things, but that never works. You’ve always got to work at your craft. You’ve always got to dedicate time. Also, being blessed with a good family, people who push you and help you grow, that’s support you need during times that are harder. The uncomfortable moments are when you’re going to grow the most. Being able to rely on the people around me during those moments helped me develop both as a player and as a person.
What are your favorite things to do in Atlanta?
Whenever we get time off, I’m a big fan of downtime. I like to relax, hang around with good people, with my dog and my best friends. When I’m off, I also spend a good amount of time in Nashville with my friends. We do a lot of training, and we work a lot, which is really rewarding and valuable. Also, I just love being at home. I’ve never been the kind of person who goes out a lot—I enjoy my downtime. Whether with my girlfriend or my friends, as long as they’re good people and they make me better, I love just being around them, watching football on Sunday and just enjoying the relaxing aspects of life. Most professional athletes don’t get much downtime, as we’re always pulled in a bunch of different directions, so when I have time off, I just like to relax for
the most part.
I also love doing stuff around the community. I like to shine my light on the important people around me, whether it’s people I know or people in the community who deserve a spotlight or some help. That’s part of why I started All Things Loyal.
Other than Atlanta, what’s your favorite city?
Nashville, without a doubt. That’s where I went to school and it’s my home away from home. It’s a good way to get out of Atlanta and all the stuff that goes on around Atlanta for me during the year. Being in Nashville gives me a vacation without having to go on vacation, and I can
focus on my training.
How do you reward yourself after a big win?
I don’t. Winning is what I’ve always expected. Whenever we win, that’s our job. There’s nothing to celebrate other than trying to be better the next day.
Your girlfriend, Mallory Pugh, is also a professional athlete. Who is more competitive, you or Mallory?
I would say we’re pretty equal. We compete in almost everything we do, and it’s fun. We’re competitive people, and we like the same sorts of things. My family is competitive, as is hers, and we just have a great time. The one thing she can beat me in is long distance running and everything related to soccer. Otherwise, I totally win…when we first started dating, she thought she could beat me in ping pong, and that went south really quick! Though, there’s this card game she’s really good at and she beat me a couple of times…I guess we’re both super competitive.
If you weren’t playing baseball, what would you be doing?
Honestly, I have no idea. It’s not like I’ve never thought about anything else outside of baseball, but I’m just so wrapped up in it. It’s what I love, and I don’t settle for anything less than that. Ever since I was about five, I wanted to play major league baseball.
Tell us about your organization, All Things Loyal. What’s it all about, and what motivated you to start it?
I wanted to create the same sense of loyalty and love for the city that shaped me into who I am. I thought it was a good opportunity to highlight all these different aspects of Atlanta that are specific to Atlanta, and it’s great to showcase that pride. We’re from the South, and we’re big on being humble and putting our heads down, but I wanted to say it’s okay to be proud of where we come from and continue developing a strong community together.
I thought t-shirts with unique designs were the best way to highlight Atlanta and the things that helped shape me. I thought it would help show people who I really am. I felt at times that people didn’t know who I really was, what I valued, what’s close and dear to my heart. There were places I wanted to be able to give back to the community, but in a unique way where I was able to share with people who I really am and what I value.
It’s been really meaningful to highlight places like The Varsity. My grandfather and I would go to The Varsity a lot and spend time there together. Music has always been really important to me, too, and while people assume I must be a Southern kid who just loves country music, that really couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve listened to rap music since I was about eight—that’s why we featured Outkast in our first design. They were my intro to Atlanta as a city. Now, growing up, it’s so cool seeing how important they were to the community and to the city, kind of putting America on notice that Atlanta was a place to be. “Elevators” is an Outkast song that I’ve always loved.
One of the other aspects we want to highlight is the personality of the city. Striving to get better, the importance of being a good person, teaching kids that the coolest thing you can do is to be kind and loving to other people, and to build community through doing and saying the right things.
I’m a big believer in helping kids and the next generation. People weren’t always blessed with the same guidance and love I was given through my family. So, being able to do that for others is important—we have to break the cycle. For example, going to Green Acres Elementary with Georgia’s Own, seeing the kids and talking to them, even doing something small like bringing them pizza, I hope they were happy and it made their day brighter, and that it’s something they can take forward.
Just for fun—what’s something many people might not know about you?
I have a lot of shoes. I’m a big Jordan person—I probably have over 70 pairs. I have a closet set up around my shoes—my clothes just fit in where they can. In the off-season, I probably cook dinner five out of seven nights, as I enjoy trying to make different things while still eating healthy. There’s some peace of mind with that. Another weird thing along that line, people are shocked that I don’t have someone who comes and cleans my house. I do all of that, and I really enjoy it. It’s a peaceful thing to see a task and accomplish it.