Curtis Granderson Earns Roberto Clemente Award
CHICAGO—Baseball America’s very first scouting report on Curtis Granderson as a professional after the 2002 season noted, “The Tigers love Granderson’s makeup. He is a hard worker and a team player.”
Two years later, when Granderson was ranked Detroit’s No. 1 prospect, his report included, “His makeup and work habits are outstanding.”
The Illinois-Chicago product’s makeup went beyond his on-field and clubhouse demeanor. As Granderson ascended the minors and became an All-Star in the majors, he began a foundation, donated millions of dollars toward fostering youth baseball in the inner cities and earned a reputation as one of the top role models in the game.
It all culminated Friday night, when Granderson was named the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner before Game Three of the World Series. The fact he was named the award’s recipient in his hometown Chicago made it that much sweeter for the 35-year-old Mets outfielder.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized and mentioned with this honor and the Clemente family,” said Granderson, sitting alongside commissioner Rob Manfred and Vera Clemente, Roberto Clemente’s widow. “What Roberto Clemente stood for, his family, living proof of what it was to not only be a professional athlete but a professional human being. The importance of knowing his community made him what he was and was the reason why he was able to be where he was, he never forgot it. Those are the things I strive to do. I’ve tried to do here in Chicago, in Detroit, in New York with the Yankees and Mets and all the spring training homes where I’ve played.”
The Clemente award is given out annually to the major league player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”
Among Granderson’s notable community contributions are the Grand Kids Foundation he started, which is aimed at combating childhood obesity and promoting physical activity and healthy eating habits. He also donated $5 million toward a new baseball complex at his alma mater, Illinois-Chicago, which has been made available to 10,000 inner city kids to learn to play baseball and develop their skills.
“I remember seeing my mom and dad when I was younger having people over just to have food and have drinks, taking the clothes that I had outgrown and passing them out at schools that my mom and dad taught at to kids who were my size and needed stuff, giving teammates of mine rides who didn’t have rides,” Granderson said. “At that time I didn’t think of it as their way of giving back, but that was and they’ve been doing it and I had the chance to experience it early on in my lifetime. Hopefully I’m able to do just a fraction of those they helped.”
MiLB Top 10 Prospects Flashback: 2002 New York-Penn League
Multi-time all-stars Hanley Ramirez and Curtis Granderson headlined the 2002 New York-Penn League.
Granderson is the fourth Mets player to win the award, joining Al Leiter, Carlos Delgado and Gary Carter.