Baseball, part one

I figure it’s about time I write about one of the great joys of my life these past few years: baseball. I am a baseball mom and a Toronto Blue Jays fan.

I’m not a lifer Jays fan, though I am at an age where I could have been, under different circumstances. I was 13 and 14, respectively, when the Blue Jays won back to back World Series in 1992 and 1993, but I couldn’t have cared less, at the time. I only have a vague recollection of my brother, a massive, pre-teen Blue Jays fan, being glued to the TV screen with my late grandfather for one of the winning games, and me being completely annoyed that I was forced to watch sports. I remember my brother talking about Joe Carter and something about a home run and me making mental note that Joe, whoever he was, was the reason I was missing Video Hits.

I certainly would not have predicted I would ever become a fan, especially this many years later. I suppose, though, it was bound to happen, considering our lifestyle.

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Because his older brother started playing ball the year before he was born, my youngest son went to his first ball games in a baby carrier, and hasn’t really left the field much since. He grew up on the grounds of baseball fields around the province. My husband and I would take turns – one would watch his brother’s game for a bit, while the other chased the baby (if I’m being honest, I did more watching and he did more chasing).

As he got a bit older, he graduated to playing in various dirt piles and looking for renegade balls in the bushes, and even throwing the ball to other little siblings forced to while away the hours behind a dugout somewhere. He was like the unofficial mascot of most of his brother’s teams.

That familiarity with the ball field translated into him being that five-year-old who couldn’t wait to join baseball when he was old enough. And it was a long couple of years, waiting for him to reach that milestone, but his first year of Junior Jay ball in Port Hawkesbury was one for the books. He made so many good friends and had such a fun season that the following year, when he could join “actual baseball”, he was brimming with excitement.

We have been a baseball family for more than a decade already. The oldest played ball every year until he graduated, including junior high and high school ball, punctuated by several awards, many championship banners, and even a few RABA games after graduation, to round things out. My youngest is even more into it; he is now in Peewee, and this is his second year playing on two different teams – a local, house league team, which plays other teams in the area, and an under-13, A-level rep team that travels the province.

Our trunk never has room for groceries with all the balls, bats, helmets, extra ball pants, sunscreen, bug spray, lawn chairs, umbrellas, change of clothes and shoes, swim trunks and a towel (in case we play near a beach) and blankets and sweaters (in case we play in L’Ardoise). On any given night during the late spring/summer/early fall, our car can be found at a ball field somewhere, either at a practice, a game, a friend’s game, or just a few friends throwing the ball around.

But even as my boys were growing up and practically living at ball fields for four months a year, we never followed professional baseball. The oldest wasn’t interested and, with two uninterested parents, the youngest didn’t know any better.

Until he did. And then everything changed.

I think it was at the end of his second year of Mosquito ball that he discovered the Blue Jays, and it was a fast and furious courtship, to say the least. One minute we couldn’t name you a single player on the team, and the next he was in the thick of it. We all were.

And that was the beginning of our relationship with the Jays, one we now wish we’d have cultivated years earlier, but thankful we came into eventually.

I’ll tell you the rest next week.

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Gina MacDonald is a freelance columnist, mother and wife who lives outside Port Hawkesbury.