Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) high fives first baseman Prince Fielder (right) after the 7th inning of game three of the 2012 ALCS against the New York Yankees at Comerica Park. (William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE)
DETROIT (USA TODAY) -- Justin Verlander is taking the mound Wednesday for Game 1 of the World Series, given the responsibility of starting the Detroit Tigers' quest for their first title since 1984. But an entire city breathlessly awaits an answer to what fans really want to know.
Is he really dating supermodel Kate Upton?
"I'm not confirming or denying anything," Verlander says, laughing and acknowledging that even his teammates are curious. "I'll leave that to my grandfather. God bless him."
It was Richard Verlander Sr., 87, who confirmed to Celebuzz this month that his grandson was dating Upton, the Sports Illustrated cover girl. Detroit's most eligible bachelor just got a little more difficult to conquer.
"I never thought I'd have to prepare my grandfather for the media," Verlander tells USA TODAY Sports. "It's a whole different world. I can't believe that people would call my grandparents. It's tough when people start trying to dig into your personal life."
Says Richard Verlander, Justin's father: "It's pretty amazing that somebody gets paid to talk to an 87-year-old man to ask who his grandson is dating. You have to laugh, but we did have to counsel Pa-pa."
Hey, when you have the looks of a movie star and the arm and tenacity of Bob Gibson, and you're dating the hottest model in the country, it's tough to keep secrets.
People shriek on the streets of Michigan when they see Verlander in person. He can't stop at a gas pump or go grocery shopping. Everyone knows where he lives in the offseason (Troy, Mich.), what he eats the night before he pitches (Taco Bell, for three crunchy Taco Supremes, a Cheesy Gordita Crunch and a Mexican Pizza, hold the tomatoes) and where he grabs his morning coffee.
Verlander and three of his teammates went to see George Lopez's comedy act Saturday at the Fox Theatre, but the show was interrupted when the crowd, realizing Verlander was in attendance, broke into applause and chanted his name.
"It's pretty cool to see how excited people are," Verlander says. "This is what you dream of when you're a kid. You don't want to be famous. I wanted to be a great baseball player. But when you dream of that, this stuff goes hand in hand.
"It's definitely exciting, but different. You have to learn to adjust. Everybody wants to say hi, take a picture, get an autograph. You've got to make your time."