Grandy's JRD cleats honour Jackie, Doby
CLEVELAND -- Curtis Granderson has an annual tradition of wearing specialty cleats for Jackie Robinson Day to honor baseball's trailblazing icon. He wanted to do something similar this year, but with a little bit of a twist.
Granderson's homage this season will not be limited to Robinson -- he also honored Larry Doby, the first African-American player in the American League. One cleat showcases Robinson and the other Doby, and Granderson will autograph the cleats and send them to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Though Sunday's series finale in Cleveland was rained out, Granderson's gesture was fitting. Doby broke in with the Indians in 1947 and spent parts of 13 seasons in the Major Leagues, including seven consecutive years as an All-Star.
"With it being that we're here in Cleveland, it just popped up -- 'Man, you know, there's not much talk about Larry Doby,'" Granderson said a day before Sunday's game was postponed. "We're here. He was the first African American to play in the American League, so let's show a little honor to him also. So we have Jackie on one, Larry Doby on another ... and afterwards, they're going to go to the Hall of Fame."
One of the first things Granderson does at the start of every year is look where his team is playing on Jackie Robinson Day. That way, he can figure out whether the specialty cleats need to be sent to his home ballpark or a city on the road. When he looked at Toronto's schedule, he noticed the Blue Jays were going to be in Cleveland, and that's when the idea of honoring Doby popped into his head.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays and Granderson, the weather on Sunday did not cooperate as the Cleveland vs. Toronto game was postponed for a second consecutive day. Not to be deterred, Granderson said he hopes to wear the cleats during Monday's series opener at home against the Royals, in lieu of Sunday's series finale in Cleveland.
One cleat has Robinson's face, with the No. 42 and his Brooklyn Dodger blue colors. On the other, it's the No. 14, along with the Cleveland red and navy blue, with Doby's face and name. The artwork is courtesy of designer Ross Sider from The Sole Revival in conjunction with New Balance.
In the past, the normal protocol was for Granderson to wear the cleats on Jackie Robinson Day and then auction them off for the Jackie Robinson Foundation. This year will be a little bit different, with the cleats destined for Cooperstown, but Granderson is still encouraging people to consider making a donation to celebrate the occasion.
"It was always Jackie," Granderson said of the previous models. "His face, his number, the color of the Brooklyn Dodgers, thank you Jackie, remembering Jackie, JRD -- everything all focused on Jackie, and rightfully so, because it was Jackie Robinson Day. I was like, 'Oh, we're in Cleveland. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before.'
"I think it's more about bringing [Doby] in. There have been so many people who helped segue and put this diverse clubhouse together."