If you still consider peanuts a ballpark staple, you probably haven’t taken a trip out to Citi Field lately. Home of the New York Mets, the stadium has upped its food game to include some of the city’s most sought–after dishes. We touched base (pun intended!) with Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson to talk all things food, fans, and why it’s especially important to root, root, root for the home team this season.
We don't realize how important food is on so many different levels.
Christine: Many stadiums have their own identity when it comes to the location, fans, and food. What makes playing at Citi Field so special to you?
Curtis: It’s a combination of the blue and orange that surrounds both the infield and outfield, and the fans throughout. It’s the energy they bring – you can hear it and feel it – and their engagement as they get louder and more excited as the game goes on.
Citi Field’s concession stands run the gamut from ballpark classics to dishes from some of New York City’s finest restaurants. Are you more of a hot dog guy, or do you like to mix things up?
I like to mix things up. At the same time, I enjoy a great hot dog – though I don’t get a chance to eat them all the time because they’re in the concession stands. If someone could bring one down to me that would be awesome! I like the fries, the burgers, the popcorn, the pretzels, and a nice beverage to go with it.
Growing up as a sports fan, you probably spent a ton of time at the ballpark. What was your favorite part about visiting a stadium as a fan?
My favorite part was when I got my ticket, entered through security and saw the concession stand and that initial entrance into the stadium. That view for some reason always gets me.
How does it make you feel to be a professional athlete and see thousands of fans cheering you on?
As a professional athlete, I think it’s always great to see and hear the fans cheer me on. It’s one of those things you work towards. But I also enjoy seeing little kids wearing my jersey. It’s really cool when a kid turns around and there’s a “#3 Granderson” on their back. Of all the names and jerseys they could have picked, they chose mine.
As busy as you are, you still find time to give back to the community. You’ve even received awards for your contributions. What makes you so passionate about community involvement?
The community has helped me become what I am today. My hometown community in Linwood, IL, is where I started, at just 6 years old, helping out with friends and family and people just around the block. As I get older – I’m 35 now – my community has grown. From Linwood to Chicago, to Detroit to Florida, to New York, my community has gotten bigger and bigger. But I’m here because of it, and that’s why I always enjoy giving back the best I can.
If food is power, what does Curtis Granderson eat in the morning to get his day started?
It all depends on where I happen to be. My breakfast may consist of oatmeal, fruit, cereal, eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, bagels, pancakes, waffles – whatever is available depending on the time and location. The cool thing about New York is that almost everyone delivers, so I have access to food at all times.
Your children’s book, All You Can Be, teaches kids about the tools they need to succeed in achieving their dreams. What advice can you give to both young kids and adults about reaching their personal goals?
First, start writing stuff down. You’re 60% more likely to accomplish that goal if you write it down because now you have something to look at and hold yourself accountable to. After that, create steps on how to get there, and start to check them off. If I don’t complete those steps and I don’t have it written down in front of me, it’s going to be very hard for me to reach my goal.
What are some obstacles you had to overcome?
I had to understand that there are people on the outside who are going to tell you that you can’t do certain things. No matter how good you are at something, there will be someone telling you that you can’t do it – whether they don’t want you to do it, or they honestly don’t believe that you can. But it’s up to you on how you want to handle that. I always try to use that discouragement as motivation, to try to prove those people wrong, so eventually I can say, “I told you!” I won’t ever say it to you, but I’ll think to myself, “You said I couldn’t do this, now look at me.”
For every Mets home run hit at Citi Field during the regular season, Citi will donate $2,000 (that’s 20,000 meals) to No Kid Hungry. How many do you think your team will hit in the regular season?
Well, the goal is to raise a million meals, which means we need to hit 50 home runs here at Citi Field. Hopefully we can do that and go above and beyond, for a couple of reasons. For one, we’ll raise a lot of money for No Kid Hungry and provide a lot of meals. Second, we’ll score a lot of runs! So I think it’s a win–win!