Posts Tagged ‘Curtis Granderson’

If the Grandy Man Shirt Fits, Wear It

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

The shirt

The shirt …

I’m wearing my Curtis Granderson shirt today. The Yankee shirt. Number 14. This is significant for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is why the heck a 75-year-old man is wearing a shirt bearing the name of any of today’s professional athletes.

It was a gift. Several years ago, my son, Zack, who has inherited my rooting interest in the Yankees and my mother’s desire to choose the perfect gift for whomever was on the receiving end, gave it to me for my birthday. (If my memory fails and it was Christmas, he will let me know.) It was … almost perfect. One size too small. A nice compliment, but that consigned Grandy to the bottom of the shirt drawer for … well, until now.

Now, I’m wearing it and, obviously, this is another significant reason for mentioning it. I’ve lost weight and gotten in better shape. Wearing the shirt actually makes me feel a little younger and a little stronger and who cares if it’s all in my head. My head can use all the positive vibes it can get these days. As I’ve mentioned before, I often turn to sports when the rest of the world is too much to face first thing in the morning.

… This seems like a good point to let the non- sports fans in on the conversation. Zack gave me the shirt because Granderson was my favorite Yankee at the time, and that was only partially because he’s a heck of a good ballplayer.

The man ...

The man …

Let’s get the ballplayer part out of the way first. Granderson, who now plays centerfield for the New York Mets (the Yankees should have never let him go), is a three-time All-Star. He has power and speed, being the rare major leaguer to have 20 home runs, 20 triples and 20 stolen bases in the same year. He can bat leadoff or third, depending on the team’s need. He’s an excellent outfielder. A streaky hitter, he is also a clutch hitter and can carry a team when he’s on a hot streak, as he did for both the Yankees and Mets. He is a quiet leader in the clubhouse. He also strikes out a lot, but today that doesn’t seem to matter in baseball. It also makes him human.

None of that is why I have a Curtis Granderson shirt. Nor is it because I liked to hear Yankees’ radio announcer John Sterling sing, “Oh, the Grandy Man can” after every Granderson home run. If I wanted speed and power I could have gone for Mickey Mantle, who was at least in my age group. The truth is, as good as Granderson has been on the field, he has been spectacular off it. Indeed, his biography on Wikipedia talks as much about his community and charitable work as about his baseball exploits. You don’t find many athletes who come close to what he has done and continues to do out of uniform.

And who, by the way, are as well-spoken as he is. In fact, his ability to express himself served him well as an ambassador for Major League Baseball International, traveling  to England, Italy, the Netherlands, France, South Africa, China, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan to promote baseball.

There’s more. With a noticeable decline in the number of black athletes choosing baseball, he has worked with the African-American community to discuss the reasons. When signed to endorse products for Nike, Louisville Slugger and Rawlings, he asked them to donate money to his foundation or equipment to inner-city baseball programs rather than pay him. That foundation raises money for the education of inner-city children and Granderson has also written a children’s book, ‘’All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It!,’’ which is illustrated by New York City public school students.

Too good to be true, right? Other players, counting their home runs and their Twitter followers, must resent this guy, right? Well, in 2009, the players chose him baseball’s man of the year for his community work and, in 2011, he was voted one of the friendliest players in the Major Leagues, according to a poll Sports Illustrated conducted of 290 players. One more thing. He.wears his socks high, the old-fashioned way (which I really like), to honor players from the Negro leagues.

And so what? you say.

And so, I say, in my ever more persistent effort to be aware of synchronicity in my life, that I was given my Granderson shirt to wear today because it would inevitably lead me to a place of positive thoughts, a place of hope and a bit of serenity.

There are, after all, Curtis Grandersons in all walks of life, accomplished, intelligent, articulate, modest, compassionate, generous and willing to lead the way. Some of them are even rich. (Granderson’s getting paid $15 million this year by the Mets.) I’d venture to say that any one of them who happened to magically appear behind a big desk in the Oval Office tomorrow would have the common sense to say, “Get Steve Bannon the hell out of here right now or you’re all fired!”

That’s what. They’re out there. We just have to dig their shirts out of the bottom of the drawer and start wearing them.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

A Beautiful Night for Baseball?

Friday, April 25th, 2014
Daughter Sadie and the author huddle for warmth during Cardinals-Mets game Wednesday night..

Daughter Sadie and the author huddle for warmth during Cardinals–Mets game Wednesday night.

By Michael Kaufman

I knew I’d raised her right when she said, “Did you forget who you’re dealing with here?” Ever since I took her to her first game at Shea when she was seven, my daughter Sadie and I have endured long rain delays, interminable traffic jams, and overcrowded subway cars to be at the ballpark to see the Mets play. She will turn 25 in a few months. Not once have we left the ballpark before the last out of a game.

But Wednesday night, after watching Sadie shiver through the first  two innings as a relentless, bitter-cold wind swirled through the new ballpark I still call Shea even though it now carries the name of a rapacious financial institution, I had asked her if she wanted to leave. “We can look for a warm place to watch the game on TV,” I added when she didn’t answer. That was when she reminded me who I was dealing with.

To be honest I was shivering uncontrollably too and I was better outfitted to withstand the cold. I wore a hooded fall coat while she went hatless and donned a thin summer jacket. Not that I hadn’t been warned: I’d ordered the tickets at a discount before the season started after getting a promotional email from Travel Zoo. “I got great seats in the Caesar’s Promenade section,” I boasted to my wife Eva-Lynne. “And they only cost…”

“April 23?” she interrupted. “A night game? It’ll be freezing.”

And I thought, “What does she know about baseball? Late April evenings are perfect. “ But she was right, as usual, just as she’d been the day before the game when she urged me to take the GPS with me before a drive to Brooklyn. “I’m from New York,” I reminded her before proceeding to make so many wrong turns I lost count by the time I arrived—over an hour late—to my destination in Coney Island.

So Sadie and I were among the 22,000 announced attendees Wednesday night (another 22,000 had paid for tickets but had the good sense to stay home).  By the time it was over there were probably no more than a few thousand besides us two and the Cowbell Man.  How chilly was it?

  • So much garbage was blown onto the field that the grounds crew had to rush to pick it up before the game started and after every inning.
  • Hot chocolate outsold beer.
  • Only two other guys were in the men’s room during the seventh inning stretch.
  • Moments after I finished my hot chocolate and put the empty cup in the holder in front of my seat (did I mention we had great seats in Caesar’s Promenade?) the cup was swept away by a gust of wind.
  • The wind blew the hat off the head of Cardinals’ pitcher Michael Wacha. (Second baseman Mark Ellis made a nice play to keep it from getting through to the outfield.)
  • John Jay came up to bat in the ninth inning  sporting a red bandanna around his neck (a style that may work well for an anarchist at a street demonstration, but which looked peculiar on a big league batsman).

But you know what? We had the time of our lives, tapping our feet and hopping up and down in a vain attempt to keep warm; searching for a hat or warm sweatshirt to buy for Sadie (which she refused when she saw the sticker prices); happily watching the scoreboard as the Yankees were losing to the Red Sox, and most of all, watching the Mets defeat the team that won the whole enchilada last year.  We got to see Wacha strike out 10 batters in the four innings he pitched. But he also walked in two runs with the bases loaded in the fourth and he did not come out to pitch the fifth.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Niese pitched what the late announcer Bob Murphy would have called “a whale of game” for almost seven innings. Niese, who has always seemed on the verge of becoming an outstanding pitcher, may have finally found his niche.  We saw Lucas Duda hit a home run and we saw two batters who have been struggling (to put it mildly)—young catcher Travis d’Arnaud and veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson—deliver solid hits.  We saw sparkling plays in the field in spite of the weather, including the final play of the game when Granderson raced to the right field corner to snare a wicked Molotov cocktail off the bat of Matt Holliday.

“I wouldn’t have changed a thing,” said Sadie before we rushed to the exit, headed for the parking lot and the warmth of the car.

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.