I was one of those kids that had the pleasure of growing up during the Blue Jays dynasty years. I vaguely remember the way it felt when the Bash Bros with Ricky Henderson and company, ended what truly had been a miracle season for Toronto in ’89. Minnesota came out of left field and upset a nation in ’91 and of course I remember when it all came together in ’92 and ’93.
The game was different back then. Back when all that mattered was who got to play Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter or Juan Guzman on the local diamond after school. Back when we didn’t understand the arbitration process or the Free Agent market. The game was pure, the players were like superheroes and the Blue Jays were the # 1 franchise in the MLB.
As the years passed trends came and went. The hype that surrounded the Jays began to fade as other things took its place. My fascination with the team never ceased. While most kids were reading “Goosebumps” I was burning through pages of Stephen Brunt’s “Diamond Dreams”, Tom Cheek’s “Road to Glory” or the latest Media Guide. In high school, friends joked that I was the Rainman of baseball stats as I could recite some of the most obscure #’s at will. I couldn’t get enough.
There’s always something new to discover with baseball, some statistic you have seen a thousand times yet never really appreciated. Some hidden gems buried underneath years of other interesting facts. It’s this sense of discovery that keeps me fascinated with the game.
A couple of years ago during one of my various browsing sessions on the web I came across the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s website. Having been there only once as a kid, I figured I would check it out again. When I found out that Roberto Alomar was being inducted along with Paul Quantrill later that summer I made it a goal to be involved in the process.
I began volunteering for the Hall in May making the drive from Kitchener to St. Marys every Sunday. It was worth the 45 minute commute just to be able to talk baseball with people who visited the museum. I heard some amazing stories, got to share a few of my own and developed a new appreciation for the game and its Canadian roots.
I met some amazing people that summer: people that built the Blue Jays from the ground up, players, executives and some of the most passionate baseball fans out there. Aside from volunteering I also had the opportunity to instruct along side some of my childhood heroes during the “Kids on Deck” camp, an experience that I will never forget.
The following season, I decided to contribute more than just one day a week to the Hall. With personal responsibilities mounting and time against me I figured that it would be my last summer before being forced to “grow up”. I decided to leave my job as a printing technician and accept a full time position with the Hall as a Museum Curator and Tour Guide. I was actually being paid to talk baseball to people who wanted to hear it. I was living the dream, which was a refreshing change of pace.
Sadly, the position was only seasonal and as September drew to a close I had to accept the reality that the baseball season was coming to an end and so was my time at the HOF. It was an incredible summer in which I had the opportunity to connect with Blue Jays fans from across the country.
I am honored to be featured on the Back in Blue site. I hope that through this blog, I will be able to continue connecting with baseball fans from across Canada (in more than 140 characters at a time). I’m looking forward to sharing stories, insight and a passion for this team with the fans of BIB in 2012.