Kevin Granderson Detroit Tigers

By  Brad Wingate

Who is my favorite player?  That’s an easy one.  It’s Curtis Granderson, center fielder for the Detroit Tigers.  He is perhaps the most integral piece of the Tiger’s lineup, as well as the cornerstone of the defense.  Not only does he show heart and hustle on every pitch, but he plays by one simple rule: Don’t think, just play.  It is those 4 words that are written under the bill of his hat, and those 4 words that he tries to abide by each and every game.

Curtis has an incredible attitude towards not only the game, but also towards life.  The character he shows were instilled into him by his parent’s, father Curtis Sr., and mother Mary, both of which are teachers in the Chicago Illinois area.  It is my opinion that it is the morals and lessons that were bestowed upon him by his parents that have lead Curtis to be both a great baseball player, and more importantly, a great person.  He is not a player who takes his talent, his good fortune, or the great game of baseball for granted.  He has worked during the past 2 seasons as a guest analyst for TBS sports, and also maintains a blog for ESPN.com.  A business major at the University of Illinois-Chicago, he appears to have a bright future in broadcasting after his playing days are through.

Curtis’ professional career really started to take off during the 2005 season.  That is the year that he helped the Toledo Mud hens (Detroit’s AAA affiliate) win the Governor’s Cup, the International League’s championship trophy.  This was also the season that Curtis began to show Detroit what he could do.  He highlighted a September call-up by hitting an inside the park homerun, having a five-hit game, and a walk-off homer.

In 2006, Curtis earned the job of Detroit’s starting center fielder, and helped the club earn its first trip back to the World Series since 1984.  But it was 2007 that really put Granderson on the MLB map.   It was during that season that he became just the third player, and first since Willie Mays in 1957, to hit 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 homeruns, and steal 20 bases (Jimmy Rollins became the 4th player 2 weeks later).  His 2008 season was cut slightly short due to a broken hand suffered in spring training, but he still finished with 26 doubles, 13 triples, 22 homer’s, and 12 steals.  As a testament to his hard work and desire, he also earned the respect of manager Jim Leyland by not only hitting primarily from the lead-off spot, but by also starting against left-handed pitchers, something that he did not always do in 2007.  A return to his 2007 form is very possible for the upcoming 2009 season.

After his tremendous 2007 season, the collecting world is starting to see a lot more of Curtis Granderson’s image on cardboard.  He went from zero MLBPA approved autographs or game used cards in 2006, to over 20+ such cards over the 2007 and most of the 2008 production year.  This shows that he is earning the respect of both collector’s and the card manufacturers.

Curtis Granderson Best Baseball Cards

I could list his top 5 cards based on Beckett book value, but with today’s amount of low numbered cards, it would consist of several different parallels of the same card.  Instead, I decided to provide my personal list of his top 5 cards.

Top 5 Curtis Granderson Baseball Cards

1. Of the Granderson cards that are in circulation, I feel that his “best” card would be his 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft Gold Refractor rookie parallel.  At $300, and serial numbered to only 50 copies, it is his highest valued card that appears in Beckett (this excludes 1/1’s and other extremely low numbered cards).

2. Number 2 on my list of top 5 Granderson cards is an autographed issue which hales from the 2007 UD Black Pride of a Nation insert set.  The serial numbered gem features an on card autograph as well as a replica United States flag, a feature that helps the card live up to the set’s name, and is a real steal at only $50 bv.

3. Card number 3 is another autograph, this one from 2008 Finest Moments.  This card celebrates Granderson’s 20-20-20-20 accomplishment from the previous season, and is paralleled by both a red refractor (#/25) and a 1/1 white x-fractor.

4. The next card on my list would have to be his 2007 Topps Turkey Red Chromograph ($100), which is simply put, a beautiful autographed card from an equally beautiful set.

2007 Topps Turkey Red Chromograph Granderson

5. The fifth and final card on my list is his 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter N-43 relic.  Serial numbered to just 35 copies and featuring a piece of game-used bat, it serves as one of Granderson’s lowest serial numbered game-used cards.  It is found only in box loader packs from A&G hobby boxes, and is an exceptional tough card to find.

Curtis Granderson Best Value Baseball Cards

2008 Finest Moments autograph Granderson

If value is what you want from a Curtis Granderson card, then you can’t go wrong with the aforementioned 2008 Finest Moments autograph ($30), or his 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft RC.  Though the latter is his most expensive base rookie card at $12, it is the one that consistently sells at or above the book value.  If slightly lower end is your game, then look no further than his 2002 Topps 206 rookies and parallels.  These cards are a tribute to the early century t-206 cigarette cards, and can be found in the base issue ($3), and 4 different parallels ($3.75-12).

With everything I have written about, I have left the most important for last.  Granderson is one of the best, most underrated all-around talents in all of baseball.  He is a highly educated student of the game, and an extremely hard worker.  You don’t hear about him getting into trouble, or demanding more money for playing a game that many of us have loved since we were kids.  He is made up of the character and work ethic that I personally wish I could claim as my own.  Because of all of these things, he is a man who, at 2 years and 10 days younger than me, I look up to, and more importantly, he is a man that I want my children to admire.  He is a role model not only for our children, but for those of us who for 165+ games a year, are still children inside.

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