All-Star baseball clinic
More than 150 kids ran onto Les Miller Field Tuesday, excitedly slipping off their bags before joining Major League Baseball All-Star Curtis Granderson on the turf.
“Bring your hands in,” shouted Granderson, an outfielder for the New York Mets and a UIC baseball alumnus.
Cheers kicked off the third annual Grand Kids All Star Camp, which hosts youth from the Chicago Park District Summer Camp program for Grand Kids Baseball 101: introductory baseball skills and techniques.
The camp takes place at UIC’s Curtis Granderson Stadium, which was funded by a $5 million donation from the three-time All Star, and is organized by the Grand Kids Foundation, a nonprofit Granderson founded to provide educational, physical fitness and nutritional tools and resources for positive development and advancement of youth.
“Curtis is a Major League Baseball player, but he still stands for what we stand for, which is community outreach and providing opportunities to students who might not otherwise have those opportunities,” UIC Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Poser said.
Poser has been a Mets fan for decades; Granderson is one of her favorite players.
“He’s a wonderful ambassador for UIC, and he is mission-central to what we do,” she said.
The young baseball players learned about slugging, throwing, pitching and more, with help from UIC coaches, students and professional players.
“Most kids don’t get to experience this,” said Brandon Marshall, an outfielder for the UIC baseball team. “It really gets them out to learn and to play baseball.”
Granderson also gave kids a tour of the campus and talked about the importance of getting an education.
“[Education] gives you the ability to task, time manage, to understand failure — how to pick up from it, to ask for help. All of those different things have helped me out in my professional career,” he said. “I’m in a position where I can hopefully just guide these kids…and, last but not least, keep them having fun.”