NEAR WEST SIDE — New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson threw the first pitch Thursday at a $10 million University of Illinois at Chicago stadium that carries his name.
Granderson donated $5 million to the stadium, the largest gift in UIC Athletics history. His pitch previewed the Flames' home game against Wright State.
"Without UIC I wouldn't be standing here today," said Granderson, a three-time MLB All-Star and UIC graduate. "When given the opportunity to give back and help those that have helped me, this was one of the first ways that we thought about doing it."
Les Miller Field at Curtis Granderson Stadium has about 1,200 chair-back seats and two grassy areas for spectator seating. In addition to being the Flames' home, the stadium also will host more than 38 Chicago youth league games throughout the spring and summer.
Two Major League Baseball programs — Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities and Urban Youth Academy — will also partner up to sponsor Granderson’s youth initiative.
"At the end of the day, it's not about baseball. Baseball is just a very small part of it," said coach Frank Brim of Garfield Park Little League. "It's about developing young children and giving them options other than what the street has to offer."
The three-game series against Wright State continues Friday and Saturday. Tickets to those games can be purchased by contacting the UIC Flames Athletic ticket office at 312-413-8421.