NEW YORK -- Curtis Granderson has long been known as one of baseball's great humanitarian ambassadors, ever since he started his Grand Kids Foundation with the Tigers and then continued it with the Yankees. On Thursday, Granderson added another chapter to that growing legacy by donating 300 Louisville Sluggers to the Public Schools Athletic League's recession-torn baseball and softball teams.
The event took place at South Bronx High School, where scores of enthralled student-athletes, wearing their baseball and softball uniforms, greeted Granderson. Because of Granderson, they will be able to play competitively despite their economic disadvantages.
For Granderson, the joy of making a difference still resonates deep within him.
"It's great to get a chance to see how much of an impact you can make on kids," Granderson said. "It's amazing that I'm very similar to all the teachers and the social workers and the principals here, but the attention that the kids will give once they see, 'Hey, this is a famous person coming in' ... They always just kind of perk up and listen a little more, so given that opportunity, I try to take advantage of it as best I can."
More than anything, Granderson hopes that his altruistic act will inspire the student-athletes to excel in school.
"By donating the bats out here, I'm sending the message that education is the most important thing, no matter what," he said. "Hopefully, a lot of kids will take some of that with them and continue to apply that toward their life."
When asked why he chose to donate bats, he said, "One of the things that you always hear, the reason why kids don't play baseball or softball, is it's a very expensive sport, and the bats are probably the most expensive piece of equipment out there. You definitely don't want to be the one kid that doesn't have that item, but at the same time, not everybody can afford it, so with the help of Louisville Slugger, we were able to give bats for both baseball and softball to help out.
"Anyone out there knows that those aluminum bats, especially on the softball side of things, can run all the way up to $200, and not everybody can afford that, so we hopefully helped cut that cost a little bit and hopefully helped bring a couple more kids out to play baseball and softball."
Hazel Joseph-Roseboro, principal of University Heights High School -- one of the schools that received the bats -- is certain that Granderson's good deeds will reap great rewards.
"I think it's a wonderful opportunity for students, because I think to have someone of this magnitude, from the New York Yankees, which is their home team -- it's literally like five minutes from here -- to be able to speak to them, to value their education and to value potential talents that they have, is a wonderful thing."
Joseph-Roseboro believes the benefits of this act will stretch far beyond the school year.
"I think when they look back five, 10 years from now, it's really going to be a magical moment for them," she said. "And as you know, urban education can often be challenging, and so for students to be able to get -- especially in these economic times, when there's a cut around every corner -- for them to be able to have someone who will donate these bats to them, so that they don't have to pay for them, so that they're able to continue to develop in their craft, is very special, and very commendable, and I really think it's going to make a difference in their lives."
Thanks to Granderson, there will be plenty of baseball played in the Bronx, even when the Yankees are out of town.
Adam Spunberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.