May 22, 2009
Last weekend we played Oakland here in Detroit. At the same time, the Pioneers of Hip Hop concert was being held at the Fox Theatre, which is just across from Comerica Park on Woodward Avenue. All the big acts you remember from the past were there: Hammer, 2 Live Crew, Naughty By Nature, Biz Markie, and Roxanne Shante.
Unfortunately for my fellow hip hop fans on the Tigers, the concert began at 8 p.m., just an hour after our first pitch. If you don't already know, I've been a huge fan of all types of hip hop my whole life. All of the artists that we hear today — the different styles and groups — had their way paved by performers that were in this concert.
Truthfully, I was just excited this show was in town.
Since our game schedule didn't work out for us to get a chance the see it, we ended up having a really good substitute. As you might know, Hammer used to be the bat boy when he was younger for the Oakland A's and, as you might not, he even used to hang out with Tigers legend Willie Horton back when Willie was in Oakland. Since Hammer was in town and had connections to both teams, we tried to find a way to get him over to ball park.
It worked. Hammer showed up at Comerica near the end of our batting practice, just before it began to rain. Since the A's couldn't take batting practice, I got a chance to meet him just behind home plate. People always ask me if I get star struck when I meet different celebrities, and I'm not sure if it's that's the word I want to use, but I do turn into that big fan, or even like a little kid, that gets excited.
I mean, "U Can't Touch This" was the first single CD I ever bought and I remember trying to do the Hammer dances and even wanting the Hammer pants when I was younger.
It was an honor to shake Hammer's hand and for him to take some time out to talk to me. It was amazing how his voice is still the same today as it was then. I'm not sure why I would think it would have changed, but that was one thing that stood out after meeting him.
While Hammer and I were talking, he mentioned that he has always loved baseball, and even got a chance to take batting practice with the Rays last season. He was set to throw out the first pitch at our game that Friday night, but a rain delay had to make him cancel so he could make it to his concert in time.
I've had some cool opportunities the past few years to meet a lot of these people. In the off-season, I have a celebrity basketball game for my Grand Kids Foundation which has brought in such stars as Braylon Edwards, Desmond Howard, Lomas Brown, Kid Rock, Miss America and Lloyd Carr just to name a few. I admire them for their accomplishments.
The case with Hammer was no different. It was very cool to get a chance to meet him and actually get to talk him while he was in town.
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Curtis Granderson plays center field for the Detroit Tigers and his blog will appear regularly on Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew during the 2009 season. Make sure to check out and support his Grand Kids Foundation.
Previous Posts: Sweet home, Chicago (May 14) The catch in Cleveland (May 11) Impressive ballpark amenities (April 29) Handling A 10-Game Road Trip (April 22) Cautious About Identity Theft (April 14) Season's High Hopes (April 6)