If you've watched the Phillies close out the Diamondbacks and Braves in recent weeks, you've been treated to the smiling face of three-time MLB All-Star Curtis Granderson at the conclusion of each broadcast, even though the hammy Pedro Martinez often steals the show on TBS' coverage ("He keeps it loose and keeps it relaxed. The good thing is, I never got to face him!").
But when Granderson's not on the road neatly summarizing postseason excellence, he's in Chicago, his hometown, where he's made it his goal to spur on youth participation in baseball in areas the game doesn't traditionally touch.
Granderson opened the Chicago Baseball & Educational Academy back in 2016, for kids from 8-to-18 years of age with memberships in 60 different inner-city communities. He donated $5 million to help rebuild the University of Illinois at Chicago's baseball facility (not coincindentally now "Curtis Granderson Stadium") with the shared goal of opening up the territory to eager participants in his youth programs.
The Grandy Man spoke with FanSided's Adam Weinrib about his efforts, making it clear that his dedication to providing a high level of instruction wasn't just about baseball education.
"I come from an educational background," Granderson noted. "Both my parents taught in the Chicago public school system. My sister currently teaches at the university level, she's at Jackson State University in Mississippi. I knew the importance of education, not only for making you a better student and a better student athlete, but providing more opportunities as you continue to get older and want to do whatever the future holds for you."
"If you look at the course of the Major League Baseball season," he continued, "it's 162 games over the course of 180 days. If you look at the academic school calendar, it's about 180 days. So a lot of it, again, just goes hand in hand. Kids understand, 'Not only am I playing a sport, but I can apply a lot of this to my academics'."
Granderson stresses readiness, in whatever endeavor his students choose to pursue. Whether it's studying for a test or submerging yourself in the rules and intricacies of the game of baseball, preparedness is key, and breeds successful instincts.
Since retirement, Granderson has continued educating both fans (in nationally televised opportunities) and players alike on what it takes to succeed in the game -- and in the life that's waiting for all athletes after their careers come to a close. And luckily, Chicagoans have an extra special opportunity to get some of that well-hewn instruction first-hand.
"For all the kids that are in the area, who happen to be in Chicago, if you're looking to get high-level instruction from Division 1 coaches, some of the best in baseball, definitely follow us [at] cbeauic.org," Granderson wrapped. "We're on Facebook. We're on Instagram. We're on Twitter. Definitely take a look and see what we've got going on in my hometown of Chicago."