During an injury rehab stint with the West Michigan Whitecaps in 2008, Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson, then with the Detroit Tigers, noticed a memorial outside of the stadium in honor of Brian Bluhm, a fan of his who had been killed in the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007.
"From that point it kind of escalated to the point of meeting his family and doing different things like getting his name announced at Tigers games, getting a jersey in memory of him," Granderson said.
On Monday, the five-year anniversary of the tragic shootings, Granderson will once again honor Bluhm with a wristband and a pair of customized New Balance shoes. The wristband reads "We only part to meet again" and the shoes have Bluhm's name inscribed on the flap of the shoe with a remembrance ribbon on top of it.
While Granderson had never met Bluhm, a graduate teaching assistant at Virginia Tech, he had heard of him since Bluhm used to blog about the Tigers' prospects and their roads to the major leagues. Granderson changed his Twitter profile picture to one of Bluhm today, and tweeted that he would be wearing the cleats and wristband. He has met with Bluhm's family twice.
"Once the incident happened his family reached out to my PR person at the time," Granderson said. "They told us he was a big Tigers fan and also a Curtis Granderson fan, and then it kind of went from there."
On Sunday, during Jackie Robinson Day, Granderson also had a customized pair of shoes that honored Robinson. The center fielder is pleased that he's able to honor people in creative ways, like he has done with Robinson and now Bluhm.
"We don't get a chance to do too much individualized in baseball, it's about the team and about now and everything like that and you want to get an opportunity to do something it's very strict on how you do it," Granderson said. "Now I've got a couple flexible ways to be able to do some things and express myself and the last two days are some ways I've been able to do it."