There have been a lot of memories in 14 years in the big leagues for Curtis Granderson. There were the three All-Star seasons, one with the Tigers and two with the Yankees, and the 2015 run to the World Series with the Mets.
It’s been the last 10 years, however, that have produced some of the veteran outfielder’s most poignant memories, however. Like the time Granderson taught a young girl in his hometown of Chicago how to use the baseball glove her father had given her. Or the time he went to a middle school in Flint, Michigan, and the principal apologized to him for the children eating lunch during his speech.
“He didn’t want to pull the kids out of lunch, because for some it was the only meal they were going to get that day,” Granderson remembered. “Those are memories that stay with you.”
For Granderson, baseball has been just one of his passions over the past 10 years. He’s used it to help build up his Grand Kids Foundation, which celebrated it’s 10th anniversary Monday night with the Grand Giving Gala at the New York Public Library.
“We started this in Detroit, here we are 10 years later getting a chance to celebrate a lot of different things we’ve done. Helping kids get introduced to the game of baseball, feeding kids, getting kids active and emphasizing the importance of education,” Granderson said. “We’ve done it in a lot of different places: Chicago, Michigan, Florida and New York, so it’s been really cool to have that reach and ability because of baseball and because of this community.”
The Grand Kids Foundation has delivered more than 3 million meals to children in need via Grand Giving – a month-long food insecurity program hosted each November. It has hosted 10,000+ kids annually at Curtis Granderson Stadium and worked with even more teaching them about baseball and education.
His commitment to the Grand Kids Foundation has earned him the “Triple-Crown” of community service baseball awards: the 2017 Roberto Clemente award, the Lou Gehrig Award and the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award.
The 36-year old Granderson is not sure what his future in baseball is. The outfielder has slowed, but his bat still plays; he has 15 home runs and 42 RBI this season. He told the Daily News in June that his future in baseball will depend on if teams offer him an opportunity to play next season.
If his playing days are over, however, don’t look for Granderson’s name on a ballot – not yet, at least.
“I don’t know much about politics and a lot of things I do know are all negative,” Granderson said when asked about a possible future in politics. “I know I don’t want to do that side of stuff, but I do want to be able affect people and change people in some way.
“All the better would be that I continue to do that through the foundation, or other ventures,” Granderson continued. “But, if it happens to be political, well, right now, all the the things I know about it don’t excite me. I would have to do a lot more research to even think about that.”
Right now, Granderson’s only immediate post-playing days plans are to continue to grow the Grand Kids Foundation. He is pleased with the foundation’s new working relationship with the national No Kid Hungry, a foundation dedicated to eliminate food insecurity for impoverished kids nationally.
Granderson still thinks of that middle school in Flint.
“Hearing things like that and trying to spread the understanding of that is important,” Granderson said. “For some, wondering ‘When and where am I going to eat, and maybe the only time I do get to eat is at school’ is their normal. We look at all the issues and problems in school. But not food. Think about the days you skip a meal and how cranky you get.
“If you are a student and the last meal you had was lunch yesterday and you are waiting a couple hours for lunch, it’s not so easy when people are saying, ‘Hey focus and pay attention.’ Think how difficult it is for you to do that stuff when you haven’t had a meal.”
The memory of those kids eating lunch as he spoke is just one that will continue driving Granderson and his foundation, even beyond his playing days.
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