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One Sizemore Fits All

No mere throwback, Grady Sizemore has already made history with his unique skill set

Posted: Tuesday May 8, 2007 8:53AM; Updated: Tuesday May 8, 2007 8:53AM
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From his playing style to his pulled-up socks to his vintage ride, Sizemore recalls a black-and-white era and a wide range of centerfielders, past and present.
From his playing style to his pulled-up socks to his vintage ride, Sizemore recalls a black-and-white era and a wide range of centerfielders, past and present.
Al Tielemans/SI
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There was once a time when the elite, multisport athlete gladly chose baseball, passing up the fame and floodlights of football Saturdays on American campuses for the scruffy, two-bunk dorms of places such as Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla., and the apprenticeship that involved afternoon minor league games played in sweltering heat before about 50 fans and among players who, with few exceptions, would never realize their major league aspirations. There was a time when players, upon securing that first big contract, thanked their team and their parents for their loyalty, with not a whiff of entitlement. A time when a well-struck ball in the gap or a one-hopper to the mound obligated the same effort on the base paths: full tilt.

If those days sometimes seem as long gone as classic rock and 220.9-inch-long, four-door, 452-cubic-inch-powered luxury convertibles made in Detroit, you haven't seen Indians centerfielder Grady Sizemore play baseball -- or drive to work from his downtown Cleveland apartment. Sizemore will jump into his baby blue 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible, the one with the suicide doors, the eight-track tape player and the occasionally balky alternator, turn up the Doors or the Beatles and steer his land yacht two miles to Jacobs Field to put in another hard day's night.

With Sizemore, 24, leading off and leading the way with a throwback style for the first-place Indians, the present and future of baseball looks a lot like its past.

"You're doing a story on Grady?" asks veteran Cleveland reliever Roberto Hernandez, who lockers next to Sizemore -- whose own locker is, appropriately, hidden behind a large pillar. "Good luck getting him to talk about himself. He's such a quiet guy who's only interested in playing baseball and doing what he can for the team."

Says Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro, "There is a superstar player on our team, but if you walked into our clubhouse, you'd have no idea who it is.

"To watch him play day in and day out is a rare treat. All of us, from the front office to the players to the bat boys, are fortunate to see him every day. He is without a doubt one of the greatest players of our generation."

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