Before being introduced to Chicago media on Wednesday, new Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson and his family had a moment to walk onto Wrigley Field and take in the ballpark.
“I just looked at my wife and said, ‘This is where we’re supposed to be,’” Swanson said. “I’m just so excited for this unique journey ahead.”
It’s a feeling that’s been building for a few weeks, toward his eventual signing with the Cubs on a seven-year deal that was made official Wednesday.
“Being a Cub means more to me than people would realize,” Swanson said.
And it weighed heavy for him recently as he went through the free agency process. Swanson’s grandfather, who was both a Braves and Cubs fan, died earlier this month.
“I really hope I’m going to make it through [this story] without crying,” Swanson said.
Swanson grew up in the Atlanta suburbs, nearby his grandfather, Herb — whose second favorite team behind the Braves was the Cubs, thanks to WGN airing games across the country.
Swanson would frequently go to his grandfather’s house after school as a kid, and the Cubs were always on the TV.
“I was always like, ‘Pops, we're in Atlanta, dude. We’re Braves fans,’” Swanson said.
“He obviously was an Atlanta fan, right? I mean, you're in Atlanta, you’re an Atlanta fan," Swanson added. "Watching as many games as he did, on in the day, he just kind of grew into that kind of like — everyone likes the Cubbies, right?
“He just kind of grew into that love of appreciating the Cubs and watching the Cubs and started to have this affinity and love towards Chicago.”
Swanson spent his first seven big-league seasons with the Braves and hit free agency last month. It coincided with his wedding. He and Mallory Pugh — the Chicago Red Stars and United States women’s national team standout — got married Dec. 10.
Swanson learned the next day his grandfather was in hospice.
"We pretty much left our wedding venue the next morning, drove home, and basically had to rush over to the senior living facility where he was at and we were," Swanson said. "He ended up passing away the day after we got married."
Swanson won the 2021 World Series with the Braves, and with his personal connection, he says he felt "called" to the Cubs during his free agency.
Getting the opportunity to play for both of his grandfather's favorite teams hold special meaning to Swanson.
"To be able to play for two of my grandfather's two favorite teams means literally the world to me," he said.