It's always interesting to me when I hear about a boy or a girl who says that they want to hit like me, or when I hear about a mom or dad saying that their son or daughter doesn't want to play the infield anymore, and only wants to play center field because that's the position I play. I had idols in the baseball and basketball world who I would try to emulate and move like on the field or court, so it's cool that little kids now want to do the same thing for me.
It does get a little scary when adults want to do it, though. Usually with adults they aren't trying to play a position or bat the way I am. They normally are trying to say that they either know me, are related to me, or might actually be me. I find it funny when I'm out eating or shopping throughout the city of Detroit, and a person comes up to me and says they talked to my agent a few days ago, and they want to talk to me about doing a future deal or something. Considering my agent is mostly in San Francisco and publicist mostly in Colorado, it probably wasn't either of them.
While eating at Fishbone's in downtown Detroit this weekend, the server came up to me and told me that my grandfather was so nice and that he was in the restaurant the week before. Pretty interesting seeing how both of my grandfathers have passed away.
Two years ago I signed on and made a public page on MySpace. The page is to get information out about upcoming events and things with my Grand Kids Foundation. Until recently I was only on MySpace, but I had a lot of people coming up to me telling me they were friends with me on Facebook. I know there are fan pages, but these were pages of people actually claiming to be me, and telling people they were meeting on Facebook that they were me. But, of course, it wasn't me.
I remember another situation here in Detroit where there was a country music festival. At this festival, there was a person who either looked like me or was telling people he was me and he ended up buying underage girls alcoholic beverages. I ended up getting asked by our security department where I was the night of the event, and luckily for me I had gone to eat in a totally different area of the city and had a receipt that showed I had been.
Lately, I've heard about Joba Chamberlain and Andy Phillips being impersonated. Those cases are even scarier, as the impersonators were meeting women either at bars or on Internet dating sites. I've even recently been informed of a similar situation for me, though I am unable to get into the specifics right now. While I am cautious about any damage they cause to my reputation, I am more scared and concerned for what could possibly happen to others in those situations.
It makes me wonder why people would want to say they are someone who they know they aren't or are associated with someone who they know they aren't. Is their life so uninteresting that they want to take on the life of someone else? Do they enjoy being thought of as someone else? Do they just enjoy the perks of people thinking they are someone else?
No matter what the case, it causes me to be even more aware of my surroundings when I am out and about. I can't control every situation, of course, and I would go crazy trying to find out everything that is going on.
But it makes me always have to keep a slight guard up to all things that are going on.
Even just as important, though, is that those being swindled and fooled could be in danger. The NBA has had problems the last few years during All-Star Weekend with parties being thrown in a player's name. The problem is that the player never even heard about it. Someone who said they represented him would plan the party and run home with money in their pocket. The unfortunate part is that it is the player that looks bad because so many paying fans feel like they were stood up, even though it's not the player's fault.
The toughest part is keeping track of these impersonators online. If you run into a Myspace, or Facebook or a dating web site that has a public figure on it, don't be afraid to question it. Don't be afraid to go to that person's representatives or, if they play sports, their team and ask questions. In the age of technology, you can never be too careful.
Curtis Granderson plays center field for the Detroit Tigers and his blog appears regularly on Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew. He maintains an official presence on MySpace and Facebook and you can also join his official Facebook fan page.