Curtis Granderson, center fielder for the Detroit Tigers, will become the first current MLB player to tour China promoting the game of baseball when he journeys to Shanghai and Beijing from October 19th to 26th, 2008. Granderson has served as an MLB Ambassador twice over the past two years, making trips to England, the Netherlands and Italy in 2006 and South Africa in 2007.
On October 22nd, Granderson will open his third tour by making an appearance with the Shanghai Eagles of the China Baseball Association (CBA), the countryâ€™s six-team professional league. He will also lead clinics for school children who are involved in the MLB International Play Ball! Program which introduces the game of baseball as a part of the schoolâ€™s physical education curriculum. On October 23rd, Granderson will join the broadcast team at Shanghai Media Group for an in-game interview during the second game of the 2008 World Series. Closing out the Shanghai portion of his MLB Ambassador Tour, in the afternoon Granderson will conduct an instructional clinic with the Fudan University baseball team.
On October 24th, Granderson will make his way to Beijing, where he will be the feature instructor at two Play Ball! clinics over his two-day stay. The American Chamber in China will hold a World Series reception in the evening where Granderson will be the featured guest.
Grandersonâ€™s MLB Ambassador trip to China comes at the end of a year which saw the first-ever MLB games played in China. MLB China Series 2008, hosted by the China Baseball Association from March 15th to 16th, showcased the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres competing at the Wukesong Baseball Field in Beijing, the host venue for baseball during the 2008 Olympic Games.
Since 2003, when a baseball development agreement was reached with the CBA, MLB has provided significant resources towards growing the game in China through national team development, coaching instruction, umpire training and youth initiatives. In addition to showcasing MLB games in MLB China Series 2008, MLB has a permanent office in Beijing, holds a yearly China Baseball Academy for elite young players, conducts a grassroots youth baseball program Play Ball! in more than 200 primary schools, has opened more than 80 MLB shops nationwide and partners with a leading sports channels to broadcast MLB games.