By the time Maybin reached the first leagues with the Tigers when he was 20 in 2007, he said older players like Gary Sheffield, Thames, Young and Granderson had taken him under their wing. They told him to “be seen, not heard” – a general piece of advice black players give one another in professional baseball.
“You taught me how to move at a young age,” said Maybin, 33, who helped found the Players Alliance. “And I didn’t realize it until I got older. Then you say,” Damn, these guys were really trying to help me make sure I didn’t stub my toe along the way. “
The kind actions of a teammate, especially during Maybin’s rookie season, have stayed with him forever. Granderson, then 26, let Maybin sleep on his Detroit couch for a week after he called, and then took him to every new city they visited that season.
“This guy took me everywhere,” Maybin said. “All over.”
Granderson has taken the mentoring tradition to heart throughout his career. He sent equipment to minor league, college, or youth players who were in need and brought teammates to meals. During spring training, he hosted an annual cookout at his cousin’s in Florida, mostly for his black teammates.
“It was things that were happening all around us that you just didn’t say were mentoring,” he said. “It’s exactly what you did.”
The person doing this for Granderson was Young, who also gave younger black players bats, Chappelle’s Show DVDs to watch on the street, and jewelry after Young signed a four-year $ 28.5 million deal with the Tigers in 2002 .
When Young reached major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996, he received similar treatment from several players: Royce Clayton, who always took him to lunch; Ray Lankford, who bought him suits so he could dress like a tall leaguer; and Brian Jordan, who always gave advice. And when he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds two years later, Young’s mentor was Jeffrey Hammonds, who often invited him into his room after the Games to have a drink and talk for two to three hours.