Grandgiving + Virgin Hotels Chicago
‘Tis the season of giving and Curtis Granderson has perfected the art of giving back, whether it’s to kids, the community, or anyone in need. This year, Curtis hosted the annual Grand Giving UNITE Fundraiser at Commons Club, an event tied back to his Charity, donating meals to those affected by the devastating hurricanes.
Before he got info Chef Curtis mode (chef’s coat and all) we knew we wanted to sit down with him and toast to where he started and where he is now. A Drink With and the major leaguer talked about maintaining long-time relationships, getting past insecurities, new beginnings, and most importantly giving back.
ADW: We have a lot to toast to. It’s the 10th anniversary of the Grand Kids Foundation, Grand Giving has raised $3 million and has served 15 million meals to people in need, you were awarded the Roberto Clemente Award last year and this is your third time on “A Drink With.” When I first met you, you were off to the New York Yankees for your first season. How have you changed over the last eight years?
CG: I was 28 years old. I hadn’t touched 30 yet. As Jay-Z says, “Thirty is the new 20.” I left Chicago and Detroit, which were the only two baseball homes for me. Detroit was my second home. I was Midwest all of the way through. I had been to New York to play as an opponent, but living there I’m like, “What am I going to do? Where am I going to go? How much are things going to cost?” To be with such a great group of guys over there — Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettite, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, just to name a few — the adjustment kind of happened easily. A lot of the spotlight was on them, so I could just kind of sneak in and do my thing. Now, eight years later, I’ve been in New York for that long. It’s amazing. Everyone says, “Why didn’t you buy [a place] there?” I didn’t know I would be there for eight years. If I had known, I definitely would have bought something. It would have definitely been more expensive than buying something in Chicago.
ADW: Does it feel like the time has flown by?
CG: Now, looking back, it has definitely flown by. It was amazing getting situated and getting to know East Side versus West Side, Midtown versus Central Park— all of these different areas —and now I know them like the back of my hand. People contact me asking, “Where should I go when I go to New York?” I was that person before, trying to find out where to eat, where to stay, understanding that it’s good to go north to south but not east to west because the traffic is so bad. Those are things you learn when you’ve been so engrained in the city like I have.
ADW: With such a demanding career, it’s incredible that you’ve been able to maintain those relationships so well. You know you have a good friend when you can pick up where you left off.
CG: Case in point… my buddy Jason Torres who I’ve known since I was 6 years old. I just picked him up at the train station this morning. He came in from St. Louis. His family lives out there now. I picked him up, he came to the house; he’s going to be with me this weekend. Someone might be like, “Why didn’t you send him an Uber?” I was right down the street!
ADW: What was more bittersweet, leaving Detroit or New York?
CG: The Tigers is where I started. It was my first World Series, my first All-Star Game and I made it to the big leagues with them. And then I got traded. It was one of those things where I was like, “This isn’t happening. It’s a rumor.” And everyone else knows about it, but I’m not willing to accept it. It happened in the winter and I was actually furniture shopping when it all ended up happening. Next thing you know I’m with a new team. Here we go. The most recent one going from the Mets to the Dodgers… it was just so quick. Getting traded at midnight and then playing in a game at 4 p.m. the next day with a new team and after a flight. It was a whirlwind of things. I get it though. It just shows that in baseball you have to keep going.
ADW: You’re entering free agency this year, but what does life after baseball look like? I’ve heard you say that you don’t want to coach.
CG: That’s still the same.
ADW: Why is that?
CG: I have a great deal of respect for the coaches I’ve had from the little league to the major leagues. The amount of time and effort to coach and put kids and adults out there in the position to win and the pressure not only from them but the fans, parents, siblings… to try to please everyone is just a little too much. I want to be able to help others— whether it’s mentoring, clinics or being an ear or a voice to help in baseball. But I don’t want to be on the field trying to win and for that to be my job.
ADW: You’ve said you wanted to have a drink with Mariah Carey, Martin Lawrence and Jackie Robinson over the years. Has your answer changed?
CG: There are always more people you want to add. You never want to take someone off the list. Here’s an interesting one. I’ve been told that I look like this guy a lot and we have mutual friends and have never met. Dulé Hill was on a show called “Psych” and he’s got a Broadway show that he did in New York for a little bit. Interestingly enough, USA Today ran a picture of the two of us side-by-side and everyone sort of ran with it. We know of each other but we’ve just never met. Common is another one being here in Chicago because of the things that he does in the city. We have a bunch of mutual friends, but we haven’t met. Chance the Rapper I’ve met quickly. We did a show together— “Windy City Live.” It was really brief and it was before he was taking off and before I was taking off. So, I would say Dulé, Common and Chance.
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