This award was created in 2009 “to honor African Americans who have strengthened the legacy of baseball in the African American community and have contributed to the rich history of the Tigers.”
For those who may not know, Willie Horton is a Tigers legend and has made a positive impact in the city during his playing days and well after.
Granderson has a lot of respect for Horton and he makes sure to spend time with him whenever he comes back to the city.
“The things that he would just always talk about were just so cool,” Granderson told the Detroit Free Press about his time with Horton. “Whether it was on the field, off the field, playing the game, the mental side, his stories from the Civil Rights movement.
You just are always hearing something exciting whenever you’re in his presence, so I’m so glad I got a chance to see him once already and then hopefully I get a chance to spend a little bit more time with him tomorrow.”
The city of Detroit holds a special place in Granderson’s heart. He was drafted by the Tigers with the third overall pick in the 2002 draft.
Granderson has continued to impact the game in a meaningful way ever since he retired. He has served as a mentor to young players who are beginning their baseball journey and holds a great responsibility in leading the Players Alliance.
“I remember being in those shoes and just being so excited and if I would have had a chance to ask certain questions to players I looked up to, what would I have wanted to ask, what would I have wanted to know that I didn’t know,” Granderson said. “Even for parents, a lot of parents that are getting a chance to go through something they’ve never gone through before, so education for them and then understanding some of the challenges that this new generation is facing now.”
This honor is well deserved for Granderson. He will always be a fan favorite in Detroit and he was a player that always left his all out there on the field.
Granderson was a leader during his time in Detroit
Granderson spent his first six seasons with the Tigers and was an instrumental piece on that 2006 team that made it to the World Series.
He hit .272 during those six seasons and during the 2007 season, he became one of four players in MLB history to record 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in one season.
Aside from being a threat at the plate, Granderson could play a stellar centerfield.
He could track down balls with the best of them and covered a lot of ground playing at Comerica Park.
Granderson was named an all-star in his final season with Detroit in 2009. That season he hit 30 home runs, had 71 RBI and 20 stolen bases.
First Black MLB Commissioner?
This organization will always remember the impact that Granderson made on the field and within the community.
Granderson has proven to be a leader of men and one of the most respected people in the game. Is it farfetched to think that he could become the first Black commissioner in MLB history after Robert Manfred’s tenure is complete? He checks all of the boxes and most importantly, he played the game at a high level.
When it comes to October baseball, every pitch, at-bat, substitution, and shift is going to be analyzed in the intense cauldron of competition for a World Series championship. So, it helps to have credible voices talking about those high-pressure moments. Fans expect players who have been deep into the playoffs and who know what it means to play for the sports’ ultimate prize.
Viewers checking out the studio shows on TBS during the playoffs are getting plenty of that expertise.
Jimmy Rollins and Curtis Granderson combined for six All-Star game appearances and between them they played in five World Series (Rollins won with Philadelphia in 2008).
In a group interview with fellow panelist Pedro Martinez for The Big Lead, Rollins said nothing compares to postseason baseball.
“It literally feels like you’re walking onto a stage, and you have to be ready to perform,” he said. “You’re on. You’re on. That’s what the crowd is for. That’s what the intensity is for. That’s the importance and urgency of winning.”
Rolins played in 11 playoff series, accumulating 48 hits in 50 games for the Phillies and Dodgers. Granderson reached the postseason in eight of his 16 seasons in the big leagues, making it to the World Series with the Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, and Dodgers.
“The games don’t necessarily go longer, but the focus on every detail is more intense from pitch one to the last pitch of the game,” he said. “You can’t take a pitch off, even if you’re not starting.”
Now, instead of playing under that pressure they have the task of examining those details and giving that information to fans in a way that brings them inside the moment.
It’s a difficult task, but something the duo enjoys doing. They exhibit knowledge and their chemistry with the rest of the crew isn’t fake.
Discussing that chemistry with the Chicago Sun Times back in April, Granderson said, “Nothing is scripted…That makes everybody at ease. That allows everybody to flow and go, and that’s the chemistry you see on TV.”
Rollins, Granderson, and Martinez have been compared to TNT’s Inside the NBA trio of Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith.
That’s high praise considering Inside the NBA is generally regarded as the gold standard of sports studio shows.
But then again, neither Granderson or Rollins are strangers to earning accolades and praise. Not with more than 4200 hits, 2600 runs, 570 home runs, 1800 RBI, 550 stolen bases, four Gold Gloves, and two Silver Sluggers awards on their shared resumes.
“As the stark racial minority in all aspects of our game, The Players Alliance has given a voice and platform to our Black players, unified in our stance against systemic racism,” said Curtis Granderson, former MLB player and President of The Players Alliance. “We stand together for what is right and to change our game for the better. The power of our player membership, including our non-Black teammates, coupled with the support of MLB and the Players Association, gives us the unique ability to create increased opportunities for the Black communities we care so much about” — Curtis Granderson.
The name Curtis Granderson is synonymous with players know for leaving it all on the field. He made sure to give his best effort out there and he made a name for himself during his time in MLB.
Granderson spent 16 seasons in the league and played for seven different teams. When he got that opportunity he made the most of it and became a well-known player throughout the league.
The three-time All-Star could get the job done in the field and at the plate. Baseball had a positive impact on Granderson’s life and he’s able to make an impact on the community because of this sport.
This is one Black man who cares about the community and giving back and he’s been doing that since he was playing in the league.
In 2007, he founded the Grand Kids Foundation. He had a vision to help aid youth development through education, physical fitness, and other positive initiatives. Not only has he impacted communities in his home state of Illinois, but he has also made an impact in other areas of the country as well.
“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 in an article from nydailynews.com. “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.”
For Granderson, it was more than just playing the game. He used his platform to impact many people across the country and that just shows the kind of person he is.
Granderson last played in 2019, and he continues to be involved in the game even though he hasn’t touched the field in two years.
He serves as the president of The Players Alliance, a group made up of more than 100 former and current baseball players who come together to use their voice and platform to make new opportunities for Black communities in areas regarding baseball and society.
Granderson is not afraid to speak out on different topics or issues or take action. In July of 2020, the MLB and teams gave players the option of wearing a social message on their jersey for opening day, in the midst of everything that was going on in the world at the time.
Granderson and current MLB player Andrew McCutcheon were the two people in coordination with the league regarding that matter. So you can see that Granderson is passionate about the things he’s involved in and you just love to see it.
The Detroit Tigers drafted Granderson out of the University of Illinois-Chicago in the 2002 draft. During his time in Detroit, he established himself as one of the team’s top players.
During the 2007 season, he posted a .302 batting average, the first time he batted over .300 in his career.
In 2009, Granderson was selected to his first All-Star Game. He went on to finish the season with a .249 batting average and 30 home runs.
Batting in the leadoff spot, Granderson could change the game with one swing of a bat. He had power and speed, a deadly combination.
After a successful career in Detroit, he went to the east coast to play with the New York Yankees and the Mets.
Granderson had arguably his best season in 2011 with the Bronx Bombers. That season he was named an All-Star and won a Silver Slugger Award. He batted .262 and hit 41 home runs.
He went on to make one more All-Star team in 2012 with the Yankees. Granderson finished his career playing for the LA Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers, and the Miami Marlins.
No matter what team he went to, he was always loved by fans. Baseball has had a positive impact on Granderson’s life and he continues to impact the lives of others daily.