by Carrie Steinweg
LYNWOOD, Ill. (January 7, 2018) – Major League outfielder and Lynwood native Curtis Granderson spent last Sunday morning at the Southland Center in Lynwood with 175 kids. They were there to work on baseball fundamentals at the indoor winter baseball clinic administered through Granderson’s Grand Kids Foundation. It’s the 11th year he’s hosted the camp to help introduce kids to the game and help them work on basic skills. The Grand Kids Foundation was established in 2007 while Granderson was playing for the Detroit Tigers.
Each participant rotated between several stations and had a chance to work with Granderson on fielding. Kids ran to retrieve ground balls, stretched high for fly balls, and didn’t hesitate to dive to the ground when needed while Granderson cheered them on and offered high fives for successful catches and hard tries.
Friends and experts
Helping out were a number of Granderson’s friends, including coaches at various levels who believe in his mission—from childhood friends and former coaches to those who currently work in professional sports.
One of the Grand Kids Foundations volunteers there to help out was Joe Scott of Palos Hills. He’s a college friend of Granderson’s from University of Illinois at Chicago. “We have a great group of college friends who have been helping out since he started his foundation,” he said. “There was a good turnout today, and it’s a good thing to be part of. A lot of these kids have played before, but some haven’t, and it may be their first opportunity to get introduced to the game. The kids enjoy it, and it’s all positive people here to give them a positive environment to learn.”
Joshua King is a personal trainer who traveled from New York. He has worked with Granderson in the past and spent Sunday aiding with the agility portion of the camp. “I got involved to help the youth get a better sense of what they’re doing and to encourage them to get out there and be active,” he said.
Director of Strength and Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox Jason Griffin was happy to be there to work with young players and help out his friend. The two met when Granderson came to the New York Mets in 2013, where Griffin was working as a strength and conditioning coach. They realized they had quite a bit in common—Griffin grew up in the south suburb of Harvey, and he and Granderson actually played against each other in high school, Granderson playing for TF South and Griffin for Thornridge High School. They also played in an All Star game together.
Off the field
Griffin and Granderson share a passion for helping youths, and both have established foundations for that purpose. The Jason Griffin Foundation touts education, particularly helping kids of single parents in underserved communities. The two have been supportive of each other’s efforts through their foundations.
“We both represent baseball, and we are both working to get more African-American boys into baseball, and we work together with our foundations,” he said. “The biggest thing is to get kids involved and show them that if we could do it, they can, too.”
Granderson made small talk with some of the participants and held a Q & A session at the end of the session. The camp was open to both boys and girls, and the kids asked about how long he’d been playing and about the positions he’s played. He let them know that he first began playing at age six and played a variety of infield positions through his sophomore year; it wasn’t until he was a high school junior that he became an outfielder. He also made sure to emphasize that his very first baseball coach was a female.
The next generation
Jazzarris Mackmore Sr. of Crete was grateful for the opportunity to bring his son out to work on baseball fundamentals. His son, Jazarris Mackmore Jr., 8, plays little league baseball in Homewood. “I think it’s great for this area to have this available for the kids,” he said. He’d also love to see Granderson, currently a free agent, playing in Chicago. Mackmore is a White Sox fan, and his son is a Cubs fan.
Justin Alberto, 8, of Lansing was thrilled to have an opportunity to attend the camp. He’s a pitcher and first baseman who has been playing since age 4 and has big dreams of following in the footsteps of his biggest baseball idol, Anthony Rizzo, as a first baseman in the Major Leagues.
“It was fun camp, and I really like what he does for his community,” Alberto said of Granderson. His favorite part of the camp was the outfield training that allowed him to interact directly with Granderson. It was Alberto’s second time attending the camp, which his mother learned about from following Curtis Granderson on social media.
“I had a good time and I liked the pitching part,” said Terrell Gholston, Jr., 7, of Matteson. His father, who attended TF South at the same time as Granderson and graduated a couple years later, said that he has always been an “all around good guy.”
“I really want to express how grateful I am for all the good stuff he does year in and year out for the kids and all the opportunities he gives them,” said Terrell Gholston, Sr.
About the Grand Kids Foundation
To date, the Grand Kids Foundation has served over a million kids at youth baseball camps, has raised over $3 million dollars to benefit local food banks, and has donated over 17 million meals to families in need. For more information on the foundation and its programs, go to GrandKids.org.
To view more photos from the Curtis Granderson baseball camp, visit the album we put together on The Lansing Journal’s Facebook page:
- Curtis Granderson baseball camp (Facebook album)