Curtis Granderson, outfielder for the New York Yankees, is spending part of his off-season growing athe game of baseball internationally as part of the MLB International Ambassador program. Granderson will spend three days in Korea followed by an eight-day stay representing Major League Baseball in Japan. Throughout his stay from December 1st to 13th, Granderson will participate in grassroots initiatives and make several appearances, including the re-opening of the Ishinomaki Municipal Baseball Stadium which was damaged in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Granderson will first travel to Seoul, Korea where he will participate in a baseball clinic and donate equipment to the children at the SOS Children’s Village orphanage in Seoul. He will also take part in a clinic for the baseball team at the Seoul National School for the Deaf and participate in a meet and greet with the New York Yankees Fan Club of Korea.
Granderson will then travel to Tokyo, Kyoto, Ishinomaki and Okinawa, Japan. In Ishinomaki, he will take part in a field commemoration at the Ishinomaki Municipal Baseball Stadium, which is located in the Tohoku region of Japan that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The ceremony will include remarks from Granderson as well as local officials and a ceremonial first pitch. In addition, Granderson will participate in a clinic for young baseball players lead by the semi-pro team in Ishinomaki. As part of the Japan Opening Series 2012, Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, the U.S. Japan Council and the Japan Cultural and Community Center of Northern California made a one-million dollar donation to refurbish the facility as part of TOMODACHI, a public/private partnership led by the US and Japanese governments to rebuild Tohoku. A plaque will be placed at the field recognizing the contributions of these groups.
Granderson will also conduct a clinic for the Girls Professional Baseball League in Kyoto, which is the highest level of women’s baseball in Japan. He will also visit with young baseball players and hold clinics at Konan High School and Okinawa Shogakuin High School in Okinawa. While in Tokyo, he will participate in a panel discussion at Waseda University in Tokyo on “CSR within Professional Sports” and speak to the students at The American School in Japan. He will also attend an event at the MLB Café, the first ever Major League Baseball-themed restaurant.
“After playing in Taiwan last offseason and touring China as a part of the MLB Ambassador program a few years ago, I'm excited to have the opportunity to help grow and promote the game in Korea and Japan,” said Granderson. “I’ve seen firsthand that baseball is a global sport, and it is gratifying to take part in its development in younger generations all over the world.”
Granderson first served as an MLB International Ambassador when he traveled to England, the Netherlands and Italy in 2006. In 2007, he made a trip to South Africa and followed in 2008 with a trip to Beijing and Shanghai, China where he became the first current MLB player to tour China. Most recently, Granderson traveled to New Zealand in 2010.
In addition to the upcoming Ambassador tours, earlier this month, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Rick VandenHurk led a group of Major League Baseball players on a tour of his native Netherlands as well as London, England. Players joining VandenHurk included Roger Bernadina (Washington Nationals), Chris Dickerson (New York Yankees), Jeremy Guthrie (Kansas City Royals), Alex Liddi (Seattle Mariners) and Kalian Sams (Seattle Mariners). The group hosted four baseball clinics, which reached more than 700 kids, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands as well as London, England.
The Major League Baseball International Ambassador Program utilizes the popularity of current and former MLB players to bring the game to fans all over the world. Past MLB International Ambassadors have included Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson, Cal Ripken Jr., Mike Piazza, Al Leiter and many others.