LANSING | Curtis Granderson can't wait for class to begin.
"That's what it's going to feel like for me, the first day of school," said three-time Major League Baseball all-star centerfielder Granderson, who recently signed with the New York Mets. "It's a chance to meet new people, new teammates ... develop new relationships.
"Already, some players have reached out and contacted me. The organization has really gone out of its way to make the transition comfortable."
For Granderson, who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers before being traded to the New York Yankees, this offseason was his first foray into free agency.
"The experience was exciting," Granderson said. "I always heard how stressful free agency can be, but I actually enjoyed the experience."
A T.F. South graduate, Granderson visited his former pre-prep schools, Heritage Middle School and Nathan Hale Elementary School, on Thursday morning. In part, Granderson was promoting his inaugural Grand Kids Youth Baseball Clinic, which is free to grades 1-8 and will take place Feb. 1 inside the Ho-Chunk Sports and Expo Center in Lynwood.
"I've done clinics in the area before, but nothing quite as big as this," Granderson said.
But the main message of Granderson's visits stressed the importance of education.
"How many of you promise to do the best you can in school?" Granderson asked the assembly crowd at Nathan Hale, resulting in a wave a raised hands.
"Now we got you all on camera," Granderson said in reference to a television cameraman covering the event, "so you can't later say you didn't promise."
Granderson, who graduated from the University of Illinois-Chicago with a double major in business administration and business marketing, was raised by two teachers. His father, Curtis Sr., was a dean and physical education at Nathan Hale.
"Obviously, my parents expected me to do well in school," Granderson said, "but for some kids, it shouldn't always be about getting straight A's. Parents and teachers should encourage students to do the best that they can do.
"But if a student claims he's doing his best but not turning in his homework assignments on time, then we've got a problem."
Granderson took some questions from students. Someone asked him what was his favorite subject.
"Mathematics," said Granderson, who has put up some good numbers during his career, including back-to-back 40-homer seasons with the Yankees, and hitting 23 triples in a season -- an astounding mark in this era -- with the Tigers.
Granderson was asked what got him interested in baseball.
"Because all my friends were playing Little League, and I wanted to be with my friends," he said. "Some of the friends you're now growing up with are going to be your friends for life.
"I still keep in touch with some of the friends I made here at this school."