CHICAGO -- Baseball legend Willie Mays celebrated his 88th birthday Monday, and the day wasn’t lost on Marlins outfielder Curtis Granderson.
“My dad’s favorite player,” said Granderson, Miami’s 38-year-old outfielder. “It’s cool to see the things he did statistically. The first five-tool player.”
Even cooler to Granderson is the fact that he shares a slice of MLB history along with Mays.
In 2007, while with the Tigers, Granderson joined a handful of players to ever reach 20-plus home runs (23), 20-plus triples (23) and 20-plus stolen bases (26) in the same season. That same season, Jimmy Rollins, while a member of the Phillies, finished with 20 triples, 30 homers and 41 steals.
No big league player has accomplished the feat since.
Just three players before 2007 share the distinction -- Mays in 1957, Buck Freeman in 1899 and Frank “Wildfire” Schulte in 1911.
“It hasn’t really been talked about too much,” Granderson said.
But shortly after that 2007 season, Granderson was in San Diego for a Negro League-related event, hosted by Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. Mays was at the event, and Granderson met him briefly, and a group photo of current and former players and umpires was taken.
“I got a chance to meet him briefly in San Diego,” Granderson said. “But I’ve been trying to get in touch with [Mays] since then, because it was quick. We came in and did something and then had to go.”
The fact that only five players are in the 20-homers, 20-steals, 20-triples club is something that Granderson cherishes.
Vernon Wells Sr., the sports artist and father of former big leaguer Vernon Wells, did a painting at Granderson’s urging of all the members of this exclusive club. Wells Sr.’s art work is prevalent at Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers.
Granderson has seen the large painting, but doesn’t have a copy of the smaller version. The Miami outfielder someday hopes to obtain one. He just hasn’t gotten around to contacting Wells Sr.
“I had him paint a picture,” Granderson said. “I’m still trying to get it. It’s been more than 10 years and I don’t have it.”
Ideally, Granderson would like to have that painting signed by all the members of the club, including someone from the families of the deceased.
When Granderson was having his big 2007 season, the statistic he focused on mostly was triples. Carl Crawford had led the American League in the category the three previous seasons.
“I remember prior to that, Carl Crawford had the triple title in the American League,” Granderson said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I might be able to get that.’ That was my thought. It wasn’t stolen bases or anything.”
Honorary Bat Girl
Mother’s Day is Sunday, but the Marlins will honor the occasion in a special way prior to next Tuesday's series opener against the Rays at Marlins Park.
MLB announced the 2019 Honorary Bat Girls for each MLB club, an annual initiative of “Going To Bat Against Breast Cancer.”
Since the Marlins are on the road against the Mets on Sunday, the Mother’s Day-related event will be held May 14 in Miami.
The Honorary Bat Girl for the Marlins is Dr. Reshma Mahtani. She will be honored pregame and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and she will also receive a personalized pink Marlins jersey and a personalized pink Louisville Slugger bat.
Dr. Mahtani is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the University of Miami Health System. She has devoted her career to the treatment of breast cancer patients, and has served as principal investigator on multiple clinical trials. Dr. Mahtani also serves as Director of Community Outreach and Co-Director of the Women’s Center in Deerfield Beach.