Curtis Granderson Bringing Pride Back to the Yankees

Most  Yankee fans will remember the inspiring story of Curtis Pride, who played for the Yankees for a short time in 2003.

Pride was born with rubella which left him deaf at birth but inspired to be a baseball player and would achieve his dream. In his short stint with the Yankees in ’03 Curtis hit a solo HR off of Randy Johnson, his only hit in 12 AB with the club, and was instantly made the talk of the town.

Players like Curtis Pride bring an insurmountable amount of pride to a baseball team. They  play the game, not for money or fame, but to fulfill a dream. A popular stab at the Yankees is they have lack pride in the new era of baseball by buying championships and go against how the game should be played. Now the Yankees have a new Curtis in town, Curtis Granderson, who may be able to put back the pride in The Pride of the Yankees.

Yesterday in the NY Times was an article by BEN SHPIGEL entitled “Granderson Gives the Yankees an All-Star Without Pretension ” which took a good look at Granderson’s down to earth personality. Many baseball players are stereotyped as being flashy and all about money and expensive material objects, but not Granderson. The NY Times article opens with this:

The day he signed his $30.25 million contract extension with Detroit, the new Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson celebrated with a double cheeseburger from the dollar menu at McDonald’s. Because of its cheap nonstop flights, his favorite airline is Southwest. When a Michigan auto dealership told him two years ago that it would ship down a sporty Corvette for him to use during spring training, he said thanks, but a Malibu would be just fine.

Granted to some this may come off as cheap but I don’t believe that is the case at all. I honestly believe Granderson enjoys being an average guy, and doesn’t want nor need attention. The next few paragraphs of the article really key in on Granderson’s character:

‘That sounds just like the Curtis I know,” said Mike Dee, Granderson’s coach at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “I remember going down to his first year in big-league camp and in the parking lot, after seeing Escalade upon Escalade upon Escalade, there was this used Ford Bronco at the end. Guess who that belonged to? You just smile at him because that’s who he is. There’s no flash to him at all.’

Just about everyone who has come into contact with Granderson seems to have a story that makes the same point. Instead of accepting a fee from companies he endorses, like Nike and Louisville Slugger, he asked them to donate equipment to teams across Michigan. His Grand Kids Foundation raises money for educational initiatives. He tries to sign autographs before every game because as a child, he received a letter back from his favorite player, Kirby Puckett.

In many ways, Granderson’s friends and mentors say, he is the ultimate regular guy who hails from a middle-class suburb and graduated from college — he completed his final two semesters during bus rides and down time in the minor leagues — and is humble with his money and remarkably gracious with his time.

…In past off-seasons, Granderson has served as an ambassador for Major League Baseball, traveling to Italy, Britain, China and South Africa, but the trade disrupted his schedule. Now, for instance, he wanted to travel to Arizona for a tutorial with the Yankees’ hitting coach, Kevin Long.

But Granderson still found time to visit schools around Chicago and Detroit this winter, participate at sign-up day at his old Little League, run his celebrity basketball game, and host a rally at his old middle school in support of a referendum to restore such extracurricular activities as the science fair. (As an eighth grader, Granderson earned a spot in the state science fair with an experiment on the reaction of peanuts to light.)

Many big leaguers donate time and do charity work, but Curtis Granderson takes his character past charity work it is his real everyday attitude. The article goes on to mention how Granderson has adjusted to NY and how he will get involved in local charities as well as  charities the Yankees are a part of as soon as he gets settled down in NY.

Granderson’s whole demeanor screams pride, and he is a guy you just have to root for. He is great for the community, the fans, the team, and there are no converns when young children want to look up to Granderson. As much as this is a loss for Detroit it will be five times the gain for NYC. Granderson is a hell of a baseball player but the pride he brings with him to the Yankees plus his character should be valued much more. Being that I live in the Bronx I look forward to watching Granderson make an impact on the community just as much as I look forward to seeing him lift the Yankees 28th World Series title.

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