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print friendly version Tuesday, July 18, 2006

20 Questions with ... Curtis Granderson

[published on Mon, Jul 17, 2006]

Chicago-area native Curtis Granderson enjoys life's simpler pleasures. The comforts of living with his mom and dad during the off-season in south suburban Lynwood. Enjoying a dozen or so screenings of his favorite film, "A Christmas Story," during the holidays. Wearing Velcro gym shoes from Wal-Mart despite being able to afford more expensive stuff. Watching "Martin" Lawrence TV show reruns. Roaming – if not mowing – the green pastures of center field at Comerica Park for the Detroit Tigers.

Granderson, the Tigers' leadoff hitter, has been smoking at the plate while playing for a manager – Jim Leyland – notorious for smoking in the dugout. Granderson, 25, is a prime reason for the team's renaissance in 2006, a surprising season that has them leading the White Sox in the AL Central. Granderson's a bit of a renaissance man himself, too. Despite leaving school early for baseball's draft, he returned and earned a marketing degree from UIC – most professional ballplayers do not have a college diploma – and he applies those lessons daily by dispensing free advice to friends. Other than not having "Martin" on demand (he's working on it), Granderson's life right now appears to be just, well, grand.

1. Tiger Stadium is coming down soon – have you made a pilgrimage there yet?
I've only seen it from the outside. Never been on the inside so, hopefully, I'll get a chance to go in and see it.

2. There's a lot of acreage in Comerica Park – but have you ever run into the flagpole, or at least worried about it?
Now, it's not in play. The flagpole is a home run now, but when I signed my contract I saw that and I remember them asking me, "Would you like to patrol center field someday?" and of course my answer was, "Yes, but we'll see about that pole."

3. Comerica offers attractions beyond the game – a Ferris wheel, carousel, various sculptures of ballplayers – but how cool would it be for the Ferris wheel to be in play?
It would be one of those things where, "Is it a double if you hit the Ferris Wheel; is it a home run?"

4. If it were in play, would you sit in the top car when Jim Thome came up?
Well, it depends on where you put it. If I was in right field and the wind's blowing out I'd have to time it so I'd get the ball when the [wheel] was rolling around to the top.

5. If the Tigers win the World Series this season and they decide to put up a sculpture of Leyland, should it be smoking an eternally lit cigarette?
[Laughs]. It would probably be one of those things where there'd be a light on the end of it, and it would turn on and off constantly to show how many times he lights up every day. It would come on and off very frequently.

6. Do your mom and dad at least have NBA League Pass and NFL Sunday Ticket?
They don't. The big thing is for me to look at CBS, Fox, ABC, depending on who's got a game. The first month or so, I'm usually just so exhausted from the season that I miss a lot of what's going on. My big thing is always to see the college basketball and college football.

7. Do you still have to mow the lawn?

8. What kind of mower is it?
Just a push mower. Our lawn isn't big, just normal size, so we didn't need a riding mower.

9. Ever stop and think, "It's a good thing I didn't grow up in Beverly. Those people have some of the biggest lawns in the city"?
Man, it's a good thing I didn't have to deal with that.

10. Based on your experience, how long would it take for you to mow center field at Comerica?
With a riding mower, and myself riding it, and if you don't care how it looks, I'd say an hour-and-a-half.

11. Are you a Harold's Chicken Shack guy, a J&J Fish guy, or someplace else?
I eat at both of those. I like them both. They actually put a Harold's near one of my favorite restaurants. I know the owner of Woo Woo's Barbecue (19769 S. Torrence Ave., Lynwood) and he's like, "Look what they're trying to do? They're trying to run me out!" I'm like, "Nah, from a statistical standpoint, it actually works out better for both you guys being right next to each other with competing restaurants. Yep."

12. You reportedly wear shoes from Wal-Mart. After your next contract, can we at least get you to consider Target shoes?
I haven't looked at Target shoes. Wal-Mart has three different colors – I [wear] the white, and they have a blue, a gray and the black – that I like. They also have another shoe that's not a velcro shoe that I was considering. I'm not too sure of the gray – that reminds me too much of older people. I didn't bring them to Wrigley – we can't bring gym shoes on the road – but if you come to Comerica, I'll have them out.

13. With your marketing degree, what do you think you could sell better than anybody?
I think I'm a big promoter for sporting events. I think I could get people to attend the games, no matter how good or bad the team was doing.

14. How would you market the '06 Tigers?
The big thing I would try – I wouldn't focus on who was playing, because that could sell itself – but I would try to have a lot of family days, half-price days, free hot dog day. The big thing in the minors was 25-cent beer night, or strikeout night. If a guy strikes another guy out, beers are only $1 for the rest of the inning. I know the fans get a kick out of that because they're in the game every step of the way.

15. Are you reading anything right now – well not RIGHT now, but you get me?
I've been trying to finish "The Da Vinci Code", but it's one of those things that every time I start to read it I get tired and fall asleep. And then when I say, "OK, I'm going to fall asleep," then I don't fall asleep. I could have read it then. ... I want to try to wait and see the movie.

16. If you make a push to have all of "The Larry Sanders Show" – my favorite – put on DVD, and I make a push for all of "Martin" – yours – to be put on DVD, think between the two of us that we could get 'er done?
I've actually gone to a Web site and seen – it's like a Martin Lawrence fanpage site – and people are trying to sign a petition, and I'm not sure who it's going to. I'm not sure why it's not on DVD. I've seen some shows I didn't expect to be on DVD, and I'm wondering why it's not. It might be an issue with the contract and the show's producers.

17. How important is it for you to have "Martin" on DVD – for example, would you date "Sheneneh" (Martin's female alter-ego) to make it happen?
I would definitely – like from the one episode where Sheneneh dates Kid from Kid 'n Play, I would do that. Just get me the full five seasons of "Martin."

18. If you borrowed [teammate] Kenny Rogers' iPod, do you think you'd find any legendary country superstar Kenny Rogers songs on there?
Maybe, because I saw a commercial with Kenny Rogers and Kenny Rogers, so maybe they did some exchanges.

19. Let's project 30 years down the line. You've had a highly successful career, so much so they've named a Major Award after you. Should that Major Award look like the leg from "A Christmas Story"?
Ooh. Actually, it could look like the leg. We could dress it with my high sock.

20. Should the winner be made to wear a bunny costume, like Ralphie, during the award presentation?
[Laughs.]. That's the toughest part of that whole movie. We all had an aunt or a grandma that never realized that you were older than you were, or a different gender. We could make the person wear something similar – where you don't really want to wear it, yet it's an honor to wear it. ... You know, I never wanted an air rifle. I wanted a dart gun.

* David Brown is a sportswriter for the Northwest Herald. If you have a suggestion for "20 Questions" write him at

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