I’m going to take a quick break from analyzing the Granderson cards from 2008 SPx to give you some insight on why Curtis Granderson is worth the pleasure and pain of being the focus of my collection. It seems as though Curtis Granderson is somewhat of a hot topic, as well as a media and blog darling. Dinged Corners is on his bandwagon because he is a good role model, others prefer his super cuteness, or so I’m told. There's even a blog devoted to his goings-on. For me, it’s simple, and by simple I mean “needlessly complex.”
Background: Early in my career as a Tigers Fan I had an affinity for Lou Whitaker and I can tell you exactly why. An early baseball memory of mine recalls Sweet Lou walking up to the plate at Tiger Stadium to an overwhelming chorus of Boos. My young, supple mind couldn’t understand why everyone would boo him in his own stadium, so I did what all kids do. I asked my mom. Turns out, they were yelling “LOOOOOOOUUUUUUU!” and by the time his second at-bat came around my little high pitched voice had loudly joined the party.
A year or two later, a lighting fast outfielder joined the team. He was a firecracker at the top of the order, stealing bases, stretching doubles into triples and gracefully speeding through the outfield grass to track down fly balls. Oh, and he had an awesome name. So, as a 7 year-old at the same time as his electric rookie season and approaching the peak of my baseball card collecting career I became the world’s biggest Milt Cuyler fan. Yes! I even went as him for Halloween, taking an old Tiger’s jersey of my mom’s (the pullover away jersey with DETROIT in big block letters) and we used stencils and black laundry markers to put a big, beautiful CUYLER 22 on the back. I can safely say that Milt Cuyler was my favorite player.
Of course, you need to have a backup plan, and by the time I was 9, Travis Fryman and his cannon for an arm had become my favorite. My dad kept me from getting swindled by my older cousin when he “voided” a trade of my 1990 Travis Fryman Bowman rookie card for god-knows-who. So even in 1990, I had a sense that this Fryman fellow was worth paying attention too. He did more and more on the field to prove himself to me, and as Milt never quite lived up to my expectations, Travis far exceeded them. The defining moments for me? I was at Tiger Stadium when he hit for the cycle in 1993—probably the coolest thing that I had seen up to that point. To top that, the Tigers used to hold on-field clinics occasionally before games. You would split into stations with a bunch of other kids and get instruction from different players on aspects of the game, and that, my friends is how Travis Fryman taught me to grab baseball with the proper four-seam grip directly from my glove without looking at it. It is easy for my to say that Travis Fryman was my favorite baseball player growing up (although Milt gets a wink and a nod). This is supported by the evidence that I have no recollection of any real “favorite” player after the heart breaking trade prior to the 1997 expansion draft. Even as an Indian he always had a place in my heart.
So that brings us to today. Why Granderson? All of my previous favorites were based on some experience or some memory--all wonderful, valid reasons to love a player. But Granderson is different. Sure, I made him “my Tiger” at the start of 2006 during the “Who’s Your Tiger” campaign, but there is more than that. Unlike any other past favorite, he is the player that most kids think they can be. Fast, but not the fastest. Strong, but not the strongest. You hustle and practice and try hard. A leader on and off the field, a team player, a nice guy, articulate, well educated. He signs autographs at games, he writes things on his hat, he engages his teammates during rehab assignments. He has a foundation. Curtis Granderson is a genuinely good person, the type that would make a mother proud, and he is a tremendous baseball player. Add all of those things together and you get a future face of the franchise, someone who Michiganders can look up to for a generation. He is, to this cohort of young Tigers fans, what Al Kaline was to our fathers. And I’m not the only one who thinks so (man, I wish I had that card).
|From Grand Cards|
So jump aboard now, because he just finished his third full season and is still classified as a rising or emerging star.
|From Curtis Granderson Collection|
|From Curtis Granderson Collection|