Curtis Granderson, Jr. (born March 16, 1981) is an American professional baseball outfielder for the New York Mets of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has also played in MLB for the Detroit Tigers (2004–2009) and the New York Yankees (2010–2013). He throws right handed and bats left handed. While primarily a center fielder throughout his career, Granderson transitioned to right field in 2014 for the Mets.
Granderson played college baseball at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and was selected by the Tigers in the 2002 MLB draft. He made his MLB debut with the Tigers in 2004, and signed a contract extension with Detroit in 2008. After the 2009 season empty glass bottles, he was traded to the Yankees. After his contract expired following the 2013 season, he signed a contract with the Mets.
Granderson is a three-time MLB All-Star (2009, 2011–2012). He won the Silver Slugger Award in 2011. Off the field, Granderson is recognized for his commitment to the community through outreach and charity work. Many of his charitable endeavors support inner-city children. He has also served as an ambassador for MLB abroad. Granderson won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award in 2009 and the Roberto Clemente Award in 2016 in recognition of his contributions in the community.
Granderson grew up in Blue Island, Illinois, a south suburb of Chicago. His father, Curtis, Sr., was a dean and physical education teacher at Nathan Hale Elementary School in Chicago. His mother, Mary, taught chemistry at Curie Metropolitan High School in Chicago. Granderson’s half-sister, Monica, is an English professor at Jackson State University.
As a child, Granderson grew up a fan of the Atlanta Braves, choosing not to root for the hometown Chicago Cubs because he often rushed home from school to watch Saved by the Bell and was disappointed when a Cubs game was on instead. Granderson attended Thornton Fractional South High School (T.F. South) in Lansing, where he played baseball and basketball. During his high school baseball career, Granderson batted .369 with 11 home runs and 88 runs batted in (RBI), and was named an All-State selection his senior year. Granderson wore #14 at T.F. South, choosing the number because his father wore it while playing softball. T.F. South honored Granderson by retiring his jersey in a December 2011 ceremony.
Granderson was recruited by a number of college baseball programs, and he chose the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), in part because they allowed him to play basketball in addition to baseball. However, Granderson quit basketball two weeks into his freshman year in order to concentrate on baseball.
As a freshman at UIC in 2000, Granderson led the UIC Flames baseball team with seven home runs and 45 walks. He followed that by hitting .304 as a sophomore, leading the team in runs, home runs, and walks. After his sophomore year, Granderson played in a summer collegiate league for the Mankato Mashers, now known as the MoonDogs, of the Northwoods League, where he batted .328 in 44 games, with eight doubles, two triples built water bottle sleeve, one home run, 17 RBI, 28 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases.
During his junior season at UIC, Granderson batted .483, second in the nation to Rickie Weeks. Granderson was named Second-Team All-American by Baseball America and USA Today’s Baseball Weekly and a Third-Team Louisville Slugger NCAA Division I All-American. He graduated from UIC with a double major in business administration and business marketing. On February 6, 2013 Granderson had his number 28 retired by UIC.
The Detroit Tigers selected Granderson in the third round of the 2002 Major League Baseball draft. The Tigers assigned Granderson to the Oneonta Tigers, their minor league baseball affiliate in Class-A. With Oneonta, Granderson batted .344 in 52 games. Determined to complete his college education, though the fall semester began before the minor league season ended swiss water bottle, Granderson made arrangements to begin his senior year at UIC via internet courses.
The Tigers assigned Granderson to the Class-A Advanced Lakeland Tigers in 2003 and the Class-AA Erie Seawolves in 2004. With the Seawolves, Granderson hit .303 with 21 home runs and 93 RBI. Baseball America named Granderson the Tigers’ minor league player of the year and top prospect after the 2004 season.
Prior to the 2005 season, Baseball America rated Granderson as the 57th best prospect in baseball. Granderson competed for the role as the Tigers’ starting center fielder in 2005 spring training, but the organization decided he needed more seasoning, and assigned him to the Class-AAA Toledo Mud Hens. With Toledo, he hit .290 with 15 home runs, 65 RBIs and 22 stolen bases.
The Tigers promoted Granderson to the majors for the first time in September 2004. He made his major league debut on September 13 against the Minnesota Twins. He received his second promotion to the majors in July 2005, and he appeared in six games. After his third promotion to the majors, in August, he remained in the majors permanently. Granderson had his first career inside-the-park home run on September 15, a five-hit game September 18 and a walk-off home run on September 26 against the Chicago White Sox.
Granderson became the Tigers starting center fielder for the 2006 season after beating out Nook Logan for the position during spring training. From the start of his major league career in 2004, Granderson began a 151-game errorless streak, the longest by a position player to start his career since Dave Roberts went errorless in 205 games. Granderson hit two home runs during the 2006 American League Division Series and one in the 2006 American League Championship Series, but struggled in the 2006 World Series, batting .095, as the Cardinals defeated the Tigers.
Through June, Granderson ranked first among American League (AL) outfielders in triples (14), third in doubles (22), tied for fourth in runs (58) and tied for 10th in homers (11) with a .289 batting average in the 2007 season. Although Granderson was not listed on the 2007 All-Star Game ballot, due to the Tigers’ decision to put Gary Sheffield as an outfielder on the ballot, he still received 376,033 write-in votes, the most write-in votes for any player. Granderson was named the AL Player of the Week on July 16, the first time he had won the award, as he hit .500 (8 for 16) with two doubles, a triple, and a home run during that week. Granderson slugged .938, drove in two runs, scored seven runs, and had fifteen total bases during Detroit’s four-game series against the Seattle Mariners.
On August 7, Granderson became the second player in franchise history to have at least 30 doubles, 15 triples, 15 home runs, and ten stolen bases in a single season when he hit a double in a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The other Tiger to accomplish this feat was Charlie Gehringer in 1930. He became the sixth member of baseball’s 20–20–20 club on September 7, joining the Kansas City Royals’ George Brett (1979), Willie Mays of the New York Giants (1957), Cleveland’s Jeff Heath (1941), St. Louis’ Jim Bottomley (1928), and Frank Schulte of the Chicago Cubs (1911). Granderson stole his 20th base of the season on September 9, joining Mays and Schulte as the only players in major league history to reach 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs, and 20 stolen bases in a season, a feat accomplished by the Philadelphia Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins 21 days later.
Granderson hit .302 with 23 home runs for the season, and was 26 for 27 in stolen base attempts. He also improved his plate discipline, as he finished seventh in the AL in strikeouts with 141. He was one of only six batters in the AL to have at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, along with teammate Gary Sheffield, Ian Kinsler, Alex Rodriguez, Grady Sizemore and B. J. Upton.
During the 2007 season, Granderson accumulated 23 triples, which led all of baseball. The American League and Detroit Tigers record is 26 triples, a feat achieved by the all-time triples king, Sam Crawford, in 1914. Granderson is the first player since 1949 to manage at least 23 in a single season. Only ten of his triples were at home despite the fact Comerica Park has seen more triples since it opened in 2000 than any other ballpark in baseball. Granderson joined the 20-20-30-20 club, having more than 20 triples, 20 home runs, 30 doubles, and 20 stolen bases. The last player to accomplish the feat was Wildfire Schulte in 1911. Granderson’s 23 triples were as much or more than six entire teams managed in 2007, the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and St. Louis Cardinals all had no more than 23 team triples.
Prior to the start of the 2008 season, the Tigers signed Granderson to a five-year, US$30.25 million contract with a club option for 2013. Granderson continued hitting well during the 2008 regular season, finishing with a .280 batting average, 13 triples and 22 home runs. He continued to improve his plate discipline, striking out only 111 times (versus 141 in 2007 and 174 in 2006) and drawing a career-high 71 walks. During August, he hit six triples, including two in consecutive innings during a game against the Texas Rangers.
With the Tigers failing to make the playoffs in 2007 and 2008, TBS employed Granderson as a commentator alongside Cal Ripken, Jr., Dennis Eckersley and Frank Thomas for its coverage of the 2007 and 2008 postseasons.
Granderson was chosen to appear in the 2009 MLB All-Star Game. It was his first All Star appearance. In the game, he hit a triple in the top of the 8th inning and scored the winning run.
After the 2009 season, the Tigers began shopping Granderson to other franchises in an effort to reduce their payroll. The Yankees acquired Granderson in a three-team trade on December 9. In the deal, the Yankees received Granderson while sending Phil Coke and centerfielder Austin Jackson to Detroit. Also, the Arizona Diamondbacks received Yankees pitcher Ian Kennedy and Tigers pitcher Edwin Jackson in return for young pitchers Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth, who joined the Tigers.
Granderson hit a home run in his first Yankee at bat on April 4, 2010, becoming the twelfth player to do so. Although he missed some games due to a strained groin, Granderson finished the season with 136 games played, a .247 batting average, and 24 home runs. Granderson, who struggled against left-handed pitching throughout his career, also put up subpar numbers against right-handed pitchers, causing Granderson to revamp his swing with the help of hitting coach Kevin Long in August 2010.
Granderson’s work with Long was credited as a reason for his strong 2011 campaign. Granderson received over 6.6 million votes for the 2011 MLB All-Star Game. In August 2011, Granderson and Mark Teixeira became the first Yankees teammates to hit 30 home runs in 115 games since Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in 1961. On August 10, Granderson hit two home runs against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to tally a career-high 31 home runs. Granderson, Robinson Canó, and Russell Martin all hit grand slams in a game against the Oakland Athletics on August 25, the first time a team had three grand slams in one game. Granderson was named American League Player of the Month for August 2011, in which he batted .286, with a .423 on-base percentage, slugged .657, hit ten home runs, recorded 29 RBI, and scored 29 runs. He became the first player to record 40 home runs, 10 triples and 25 stolen bases in one season. Granderson finished fourth in balloting for the American League Most Valuable Player Award.
On May 6, 2012, Curtis achieved his 1,000th hit against the Kansas City Royals. On August 26, 2012, Granderson hit his 200th career home run against the Cleveland Indians. He finished the 2012 season with a .232 batting average, 43 home runs, 106 RBI, and set a new Yankees season record by striking out 195 times.
On October 19, the Yankees exercised Granderson’s club option for 2013. Originally worth $13 million, it became a $15 million option after he placed 4th in the MVP voting in 2011. In his spring training debut against the Toronto Blue Jays on February 24, 2013, Granderson was hit by a pitch from J. A. Happ that fractured his right forearm. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list to begin the 2013 season. He returned to the Yankees on May 14. On May 18, 2013, Granderson made his first start at right field. May 24, 2013, Granderson broke the knuckle of his left pinkie finger after getting hit by Tampa Bay’s Cesar Ramos’ pitch in the 5th inning. He was again placed on the 15-day disabled list. On May 29, 2013, Granderson underwent surgery in which a pin was inserted to the knuckle to stabilize the fracture. On August 2, 2013, Granderson was activated from the disabled list. Granderson was limited to only 61 games in 2013 batting .229 with 7 home runs and 15 RBI. He became a free agent for the first time of his career after the season.
Granderson agreed to terms with the New York Mets on a four-year contract worth $60 million on December 6, 2013. Granderson’s salaries were set at $13 million in 2014, $16 million in 2015 and 2016, and $15 million in 2017. The Mets played Granderson as their right fielder. He started 148 games with 130 in right field.
In 2015, he became the team’s primary leadoff hitter. He went on to lead the team in games played, runs scored, hits, stolen bases, walks, on-base percentage and total bases en route to a National League East division title. In the third game of the National League Division Series, Granderson picked up five RBI – this tied a Mets single game postseason record previously set by Carlos Delgado in the 2006 National League Championship Series, Edgardo Alfonzo in the 1999 NLCS and Rusty Staub in the 1973 World Series. After beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games in the NLDS, the Mets went on to sweep the Chicago Cubs in four games in the NLCS and advance to their first World Series since 2000.
Granderson and Daniel Murphy were the two most productive hitters in the Mets lineup during their 2015 postseason run to the World Series. While Murphy cooled off in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, Granderson continued to be a consistent threat for the Mets out of the leadoff spot and also had three home runs and five RBIs in that World Series. In Game 1, after the Royals tied the game in the ninth inning with a home run off Mets closer Jeurys Familia, Granderson made an excellent leaping catch with nobody out in the bottom of the 11th inning, off the bat of the Royals fastest runner Jarrod Dyson, preventing what would have at least been a lead off triple and likely saving the game at the time, though the Royals would go on to win the game anyway in the bottom of the 14th inning on a sacrifice fly by Eric Hosmer. Throughout the series, playing right field, Granderson played the most consistent and solid defense of any Mets fielder.
On May 27, 2016, Granderson hit a walk off home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was the first batter up in the bottom of the 9th inning. As of June 16, 2016, Granderson had hit 17 lead-off homers since joining the Mets in 2014, a franchise record. On September 17, Granderson hit two solo home runs against the Minnesota Twins at Citi Field. The first tied the ballgame in the bottom of the 11th inning and the second won the game in the bottom of the 12th inning. He became only the eighth player in Major League history to hit multiple home runs in extra innings of the same game. In the National League Wild Card Game against the San Francisco Giants , on October 5, Granderson made an incredible catch to save several runs from scoring late in the close game.
Granderson is an avid fan of WWE, and attended WrestleMania 23 in Detroit. He considers The Ultimate Warrior, The Undertaker, Junkyard Dog, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and Hulk Hogan to be his favorite wrestlers. He is also an avid fan of college basketball and of the Kansas Jayhawks.
Off the field, Granderson has served as an ambassador for Major League Baseball International. He has traveled to England, Italy, the Netherlands, France, South Africa, China, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan to promote baseball. In appreciation for his efforts, Commissioner Bud Selig penned a thank-you letter to Granderson which read in part, “There are so many fine young men playing Major League baseball today, but I can think of no one who is better suited to represent our national pastime than you.” He has also served as something of an unofficial baseball ambassador to the African-American community, often participating in and initiating dialogue about the lack of black players at all levels of the sport. When he endorsed Nike, Inc., Louisville Slugger and Rawlings, he asked them to donate money to his foundation or equipment to inner-city baseball programs rather than pay him.
His foundation, Grand Kids Foundation, has raised money to benefit the educations of inner-city children around the country. Granderson wrote a children’s book, All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It!, which was published in August 2009. The book is illustrated by students of the New York City public school system. In February 2010, Granderson represented MLB at a White House function announcing Let’s Move!, a childhood anti-obesity effort sponsored by First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama. Granderson paid $5 million to help UIC build a new baseball stadium in 2013.
Granderson has been involved in the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) since 2006. He has taken part in negotiations of the labor contract. Granderson was chosen as the 2009 Marvin Miller Man of the Year by the MLBPA for his off-field work.
In 2011, Granderson was also voted one of the friendliest players in the Major Leagues, according to a poll conducted by Sports Illustrated to 290 players. Granderson wears his socks high to honor players from the Negro leagues.