Outfielder grateful for elders, gives back to inner-city youth
By Curtis Granderson
Special to MLB.com |
Black History Month is a time to remember the important contributions and achievements of African-Americans throughout our nation's history. Personally, the observation of black history is a time for me to reflect on all those who have come before me in the African-American community and their countless sacrifices and struggles, shaping the way for future generations -- including my own.
In addition to Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, George Washington Carver and other leaders in the African-American community, I also celebrate my grandparents and parents, who accomplished so much in an effort to provide opportunity for my family. Learning from my elders about how things were and how things have changed has helped me understand the importance of hard work -- encouraging me to "play hard" every day and pay it forward for generations to come.
In recent years, there's been a tremendous decline in African-American baseball engagement. Less than 8 percent of Major League Baseball athletes are African-American, accented by a growing decline in inner-city youth baseball. Through my Grand Kids Foundation, we've focused a tremendous amount of energy and resources toward providing inner-city youth baseball opportunities -- including most recently, the development of Curtis Granderson Stadium at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in which more than 10,000 kids from Chicago's inner city can safely "play ball" all year long.
Black History Month is a great time to reflect, but it's an equally important time to engage the community and continue to make societal changes. I look forward to doing my part to instill change and will continue to follow in the late Jackie Robinson's footsteps -- on Jackie Robinson Day, when I wear a custom New Balance cleat in his honor, and all year long.
Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson is entering his 13th season in the Major Leagues. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.