By Jason Klein
As Seen in In New York Magazine – 8/16/12
Commissioner Bud Selig once said he couldn’t think of anyone better to represent the game of baseball than Curtis Granderson.
After meeting with the Yankees Centerfielder, I can see why.
Granderson lived up to the high praise when I spoke with him on Monday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. We chatted in front of a group of fifty children, and their parents, during a meet & greet event coordinated by Steiner Sports Marketing.
The Yankees center fielder was all smiles as he addressed the kids on a wide variety of topics, many of which emphasized his solid upbringing and strong moral background. Dressed in full Yankees attire, Granderson stressed the importance of “always doing the right thing,” “working hard,” and “having fun.”
Though he happily discussed his accomplishments on the field – including 3 All-Star selections and a 2011 Silver Slugger Award – Granderson was most proud of what he’s been able to accomplish off it.
“There are 750 Major League Baseball players. Out of those 750 players there are 38 of them with a college degree. I’m one of them,” he said. “So that’s one of the big things I brag about. I don’t brag about too much else, except for that.”
And rightfully so.
Granderson earned a degree in business from the University of Illinois-Chicago after being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2002 as a junior. He easily could have given up on school after securing a professional baseball contract. However, as the son of two teachers, Granderson grew up understanding the importance of a solid education and the opportunities it can create.
“The great thing about getting your college degree is, after you’ve done that, you can do a million other things in life,” he said. “All the doors and opportunities are available for you. I do have an opportunity to play this great game of baseball, but that’s not going to happen forever. I have to start thinking about other things I want to do with my life afterwards.”
The possibilities will be endless for the articulate and animated Granderson. He didn’t dismiss the idea of going into teaching like his parents did, but upon his retirement, there will be no shortage of television and radio opportunities available for him. An energetic and well-spoken former player is a hot commodity in the sports media industry. Granderson’s bubbly disposition certainly fits the part.
He let his personality shine during our interview, joking with the kids about his obsession with social media and texting. He admitted: “you can’t keep the phone out of my hand.” He acknowledged an addiction to Facebook & Twitter – confirming he does all of his own posting and tweeting – and laughed while admitting that eating, sleeping, and putting on a clean pair of socks are among his favorite activities.
Regular stuff for a regular guy.
“We just go around and do our thing,” he said. Everyone is surprised to see us in basic places like Walmart, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond. We need groceries, and toothpaste. We need to go get that stuff too! We’re normal people!”
In Selig’s eyes, Granderson is anything but normal. He is a special player and an extraordinary ambassador for baseball. For this reason, he’s shown no hesitation in sending him out to spread the game to other cultures.
“This game of baseball has allowed me the opportunities to do amazing things,” he said. “I get a chance to be here at Yankee Stadium, travel all over the world to places like South Africa, New Zealand, China, Europe and Panama. I’ve been to a bunch of different places to help promote baseball. I get to meet with a lot of kids from all over the world and show them how cool this game is.”
They also get to see just how cool Granderson is.
Selig already knew.
Now I do too.
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