People who play in any sport does so for their love of the game, Money and awards are nice perks, don’t get me wrong, but the main reason for wanting to make this a career decision is due to developing as a youngster something he liked to do into something that would grow into a passion. Playing baseball during the 2016 season for the New York Mets gave Curtis Granderson the opportunity to continue playing in the sport that he loves and being a part of a franchise that is a melting pot of sorts.
While the organization has seen its players over the decades receive different types of accolades, Granderson was able to receive one that only three other Mets players before him have accomplished. Receiving the Roberto Clemente Award is something that holds a special meaning for him; however, being presented to him in his hometown while in front of his parents made the moment more remember able.
The award is the sport’s highest honor for community involvement and sportsmanship on Friday evening in front of thousands of onlookers; the award was given before Game 3 of the World Series at Wrigley Field! Curtis is from the suburb of Blue Island in Chicago and in college played ball for the University of Illinois-Chicago. Granderson addressed the crowd and said, “It's really cool to get a chance to be here with my mom and dad, who made me who I am today. Chicago's always been home. Though I've played for teams outside of Chicago, but this is what helped me to get me where I am today.”
Granderson, who is 35, created in 2007 the Grand Kids Foundation in which he runs character development programs and baseball clinics. Also, the UIC received a donation from him for $5 million to help construct an outdoor/indoor baseball facility that eventually opened in 2014. Other examples of his generosity include being a part of the military appreciation work through the Mets and assists in raising cash in New York for several charities. Commissioner Rob Manfred commented by saying how Granderson is a perfect recipient for the Roberto Clemente Award.
Being a Pirates player who became a longtime Hall of Famer for them, Clemente was on a charter plane on New Year’s Eve when it crashed after takeoff in 1972. Adding to the tragedy, relief aid was on board and being sent to Nicaragua after an earthquake. Granderson said that, “What Roberto Clemente stood for; his family is living proof of what it was to not only be a professional athlete, but professional human being. The importance of knowing that his community is what made him who he was, and the reason why he was able to be where he was, and he never forgot that, whether his community was in Pittsburgh, where he played, or his hometown where he was able to go back to in the offseason, or during the season to help out at any time no matter what was going on."
The other Mets players to win the award are Carlos Delgado (2006), Gary Carter (1989) and Al Leiter (2000). Last year, outfielder Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates received the award.