LANSING | Instead of a glove, his left hand was wrapped in a white bandage.
New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson said it was wrapped after he had surgery to repair a tear suffered against the Cubs during the National League Championship Series.
"I caught it on Starlin Castro's spike when I was sliding into second (base)," Granderson told a group of T.F. South students and teachers Friday. "Luckily it was my top (batting) hand and I could still hit."
Granderson did plenty of that as he helped the Mets beat the Cubs, then smacked three home runs and had five RBIs in the Mets' five-game loss to the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.
The 34-year-old T.F. South graduate visited his old school as part of the MLB Network series, "Players Go Home," which will air in early December on "MLB Tonight." He just completed his 10th major league season and said he still loves the game.
"I will play as long as I still can," said Granderson, who is signed with the Mets through 2017. "I do not want to be in a position where I am struggling. When someone comes along who is better, then it is time for them to step in. I have been fortunate to have my health and no major injuries. I love the game and I will play as long as I am able to."
He had a big smile on his face when he asked the students how they liked their New Balance shoes that he donated to the T.F. South athletic programs in the spring.
"They are good shoes, see I am wearing my New Balance," Granderson said. "I am glad you got them."
He also credited then-head coach Bill Anderson and then-assistant coach Kenny Reynolds for working with him.
"They told me I had a chance to play college ball," Granderson said. "I never thought I would make it to the majors, but they saw something in me and worked with me to make me better. A lot of credit to my coaches and teachers at South."
Granderson was not The Times Illinois 1999 player of the year. Teammate Mike Holba, who went to Notre Dame, was. Holba lives in New York and the two keep in contact.
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Granderson is hosting a baseball camp Saturday at the University of Illinois-Chicago, his alma mater. Thursday, he and his GrandKids Foundation hosted a dinner to fight hunger in the inner cities. He donated $5 million to UIC for baseball facilities. He stressed it is more than a baseball field.
"We are trying to get kids on a college campus and a safe haven from gangs," Granderson said. "A lot of kids in Chicago have never been on a college campus or even seen Lake Michigan and it is right at their front door.
"They don't realize what is going on in their own city. Hopefully, they get on campus and then realize it is possible for them to go to college."
Granderson has also played for the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees during his 12-year career. He was recently voted New York's baseball player of the year by the New York sportswriters.
He also encouraged kids to study and play as many sports as possible.
"I loved bowling and was a pretty good bowler at my home lanes (Lynwood Bowl)," Granderson said. "I wish T.F. South had a (boys) bowling team back then."
Granderson is just one of 5 percent of Major League players who have a degree.
"I might be a professor one day and teach you in college," Granderson said. "Education is important and my parents (Curtis Sr. and Mary) were both teachers and my sister (Monica) is a college professor (at Jackson State).
"Or I might work for MLB Network or be a spokesman for New Balance."
Or just an ambassador for baseball.