Curtis Granderson and his fellow players want to let their fans get to know them a little better during Players Weekend.
“Fans want to know who we are and what we do and we want to be able to let fans know, ‘This is me. This is who I am. Obviously, I play baseball, but these are some of the other things that make me who I am,'' the three-time all-star said. “Players are excited about being able to tell their stories.”
Granderson, now of the LA dodgers and one of the Players Association's top elected officers, and all players will have that opportunity during the first-ever celebration of players' passions and personalities that will take place at ballparks across the country this Friday through Sunday (Aug. 25-27.)
Players will wear customized gear and colorful, non-traditional uniforms inspired by youth league uniforms during the three-day event, which was conceived in large part by the Players and the MLBPA as a way to allow players and young fans to connect through the sharing of their interests and cultures while bringing attention to causes they support.
Unreal work by @sentrock, @JCRivera and @MaxSansing on my #PlayersWeekend @adidasbaseball cleats! So excited to lace them up and raise awareness for @wflworldrun Spinal Cord Injury Research. Full story in bio! #givesyouwings
A post shared by Kris Bryant (@kris_bryant17) on Aug 24, 2017 at 10:46am PDT
Players were offered the opportunity to put their nicknames on the back of their specially designed Majestic jerseys and write in the name of a person or organization that was instrumental to their development on a patch on their right sleeves.
“I'm really excited about showcasing Chicago, my hometown, the Little Leagues that helped get me where I am, my high school, my university and my foundation,” Granderson said. “I'm going to take advantage of the whole weekend and wear three different pairs of cleats.
“The Grandyman nickname that people have given me will be on the back of my jersey and on the patch I'll put in the names of the two little leagues I played for.”
Rookie slugger Aaron Judge will, of course, wear the slogan “All Rise” – the chant Yankee fans have adopted when he comes to bat – on the back of his uniform, sans the legendary pinstripes.
“I'm excited for it. It's a chance for the players to express themselves with their jerseys and cleats,” Judge said. “We'll be able to put a couple names on special arm patches. It's going to be a fun little weekend for everybody.”
Additionally, New Era has created special caps, Stance new sock designs and players have been invited to customize their spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves, catcher's masks, and bats with color and imagery.
The event has a charitable component, as well, with game-worn jerseys being auctioned at MLB.com/auctions with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, which was launched in July 2015 with an initial commitment of $30 million focused on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the United States and Canada.
A group of stars were selected as “Players Weekend Ambassadors” to help promote the event: Yonder Alonso (Seattle), Javier Baez (Chicago Cubs), Jose Bautista (Toronto), Nelson Cruz (Seattle), Ender Inciarte (Atlanta), Francisco Lindor (Cleveland), Manny Machado (Baltimore), Anthony Rizzo (Chicago Cubs), CC Sabathia (NY Yankees), Christian Yelich (Miami) and Chris B. Young (Boston).
Players including CC Sabathia, Bo Schultz and Josh Thole were instrumental in developing the concept along with a contingent from the Players Association and MLB.
“We wanted to do something a little different for the game, let guys show their personalities,” Sabathia said. “Guys can create their own shoes and whatever they want to wear. I've been involved in the creative part with my shoes and everything. It's been fun.”
“I'm going to put the name of my hometown, Vallejo (Calif.), on the patch,” Sabathia said. “The people there have given me a huge amount of support and it's a big baseball town. I'm proud of where I came from.”
Travis d'Arnaud of the New York Mets will wear the nickname “Lil D” on the back of his uniform and on his sleeve honor the Lakewood (Calif.) Little League where he and his older brother, Chase (currently playing in the San Diego Padres' system), had some of their earliest and fondest memories on a baseball field.
“We both had a lot of fun there and were able to grow up together playing the game we love and ultimately we both somehow ended up big leaguers, so credit has to go to the little league,” d'Arnaud said. “Playing with my brother for the first time was probably the biggest thing. I was a shortstop and third baseman in those days. If my brother wasn't pitching I would play third base and he would play shortstop.”
To keep up with some of the social media activity generated by the Players over the next few days, search #PlayersWeekend and bookmark this social media wall on MLBPlayers.com.