LANSING | The best youth league baseball players get to play on All Star teams and share in the glory of athletic competition at a higher level.
Yet that often leaves a level of players who aren’t quite good enough to play on those teams, leaving them cut out of the celebration.
It is those kids who will play a trio of baseball games on Aug. 8 sponsored by Curtis Granderson, the New York Yankees’ center fielder who played his youth league baseball in the Lansing Babe Ruth League, along with prep baseball at Thornton Fractional South High School.
“It’s a reward for those kids who show a passion for and loyalty to the game,” said Lansing Babe Ruth Baseball President Rick Seymour, who is helping to coordinate the games. “They’re getting a taste of what it’s like to be an All Star.”
Granderson contacted Lansing Little League officials in January, and the game was timed to be played while he was in Chicago for the Yankees’ three-game series Aug. 5-7 against the Chicago White Sox.
Seymour said the games will be played by 36 kids ages 10 to 12. Some of the players will come from Lynwood, where the local Little League program was unable to get enough children to operate a full league this season.
Seymour said Granderson will arrive at the Lansing Sports Complex about 4:30 p.m., will talk to all of the ballplayers, will play a game of catch with them, then will hang around for the first few innings before he leaves to catch a flight to New York. The Yankees will play a weekend series against his former ballclub, the Detroit Tigers.
“It’s a travel day for the Yankees,” Seymour said, of the Aug. 8 game date. Granderson “is giving up a day off to spend time with the kids.”
The children who participate will receive special jerseys and medals designed for the game.
Granderson also has arranged for the kids to be at U.S. Cellular Field for the Yankees’ game against the White Sox on Aug. 5. “He’s sponsoring their trip to the game,” said Seymour. “He wants to promote their interest in baseball.”