Thursday, May 5, 2011

Curtis Granderson: A Gentleman and a Scholar

As per Mitch Abramson:
For moment, South Bronx HS baseball player Martin Perez felt like superman.

During batting practice on Wednesday, Perez swung at a pitch from teammate Corey Palmares and shredded his 33-inch Marucci bat into pieces.

The damage was so severe that fragments of the bat landed beyond third base.

At first, Perez, the starting catcher, was impressed with the "feat."

Then, he realized the cost: He'd just lost the $110 that his father had plunked down to buy him the bat.

"All that money down the drain," Perez said, shaking his head. "I just knew my father was going to give it to me for that."

Ever since the city banned the use of metal bats in high school leagues in the spring of 2007, players and teams have been coping with the myriad issues that accompanied the switch to wood: how to manufacture runs with a less potent weapon; how to raise money to buy wooden bats, which tend to break easily; and how to mollify parents who dip into their wallets to buy wooden bats only to see them demolished with one swing.

"It makes you want to swing more carefully," Perez said with a laugh.

Enter Curtis Granderson. Searching for a way to help city kids, the Yankees' center fielder contacted the PSAL and discovered what coaches, players and schools across the city have known for years: There's a shortage of bats and not just in baseball.

Standing next to newly installed schools chancellor Dennis Walcott at South Bronx HS Thursday, Granderson announced that he had donated 300 Louisville Slugger bats to the baseball and softball programs in the PSAL.

The contribution is worth approximately $50,000, according to a PSAL official, Tyrone Parker, who listed metal bats at a retail cost of $300 apiece and wooden bats at $60.

The topic of metal bats in softball has also become a hot-button issue as the price of bats - some retail for upwards of $300 - has risen too much for teams to afford.

"It's tough when you're using a rusty bat," said Soledad Moya, who plays second base on the South Bronx softball team.

"Some of our bats are messed up," she added. "You try to do what you can do, but it does make a difference, with the kind of bat you have."

Judging by the reaction he got from students as he walked into the gym at South Bronx HIgh at 2:04 Thursday afternoon, Granderson, dressed in dark slacks and a pinstriped shirt, may as well have been trotting around the bases.

Granderson made the donation in conjunction with Louisville Slugger, a sponsor and his Grand Kids Foundation.
There are a great deal of stories of this nature, dating back to Granderson's tenure with the Detroit Tigers, and I cannot help but feel that he is nothing short of a terrific human being. I suggest you check out the work he's doing with the aforementioned Grand Kids Foundation, which promotes the arts and sciences in education, as well as inner-city baseball programs.

Keep up the good work, Curtis.

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