Blue Jays baseball, Truth and Reconciliation, and playoffs ahead

I don’t post about sports very often (unless you count running, that is), and I’m not sure I’ve ever posted two days in a row, but last night’s Blue Jays game was too much fun not to share.

Maybe I should first provide some context for those of you who don’t follow baseball and/or don’t understand the significance of the Toronto Blue Jays for Canadians (or the Toronto Raptors when basketball season begins). The first MLB (major league baseball) team to arrive in Canada was the Montreal Expos, back in 1969. We were HUGE fans, especially being former Montrealers. Then, in 1977 Canada got its second major league baseball team in the Toronto Blue Jays. I continued to be an Expos fan, but sadly they eventually were taken south of the border and became the Washington Nationals, just as the beloved Brooklyn Dodgers of my childhood were stolen away to Los Angeles.  So Canada has one major league baseball team – the Blue Jays – and one NBA basketball team – the Raptors. These teams aren’t just Toronto teams, they’re Canada’s teams!

Take me out to the ballgame … BlueJays-game

The Blue Jays have made 8 playoff seasons in their 45-year history, and this year is going to make it 9. In two of those playoff years, back to back 1992 and 1993, the Blue Jays – that team north of the border – won the World Series. Needless to say, that’s what we’re hoping for this year as well.

Last night’s game sealed the deal for the Blue Jays making it to the playoff season that starts October 7, well, that game and the Orioles’ loss to the Red Sox the night before. So last night’s game was celebratory before it even began. However, the care and attention the Blue Jays organization paid to honouring the spirit of yesterday’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – Orange Shirt Day – made the night particularly meaningful.

The pre-game ceremonies began with a reminder of why we have Orange Shirt Day and why it is so important that we all acknowledge and help in the healing of the victims of decades of abuse and self-loathing instilled by the Residential Schools. The announcer reminded the audience and viewers that the game was being played on land that had historically belonged to the several First Nations in the greater Toronto and southern Ontario area. Following that there was 1 minute of silence to reflect on the thousands of children who died while in the ‘care’ of the Residential Schools.

Observing 1 minute of silent reflection … BlueJays-silence

And then came the singing of the national anthem. Following a lovely rendition of the American anthem for the visiting Boston Red Sox, Tsuaki Marule, a professor at Red Crow Community College in Alberta, sang O Canada.  She sang it in 3 languages: English, French, and Blackfoot. I have to say that, for me, it was extremely moving to watch and hear this young woman from the Blood Tribe sing our national anthem in 3 languages, representing the original peoples of our land plus the 2 original settler groups. A young woman who has many relatives who were victims of the Residential School system.

Tsuaki Marule singing O Canada … BlueJays-Anthem

Then it was time for a special guest to throw out the first pitch. And this was a very special guest.  I can’t remember ever seeing a woman throw out the first pitch before, although I’m sure it’s happened. But this may be the first 72-year old woman to throw out the first pitch. And most definitely the first residential school survivor to do so. But Dolores Naponse was up to the task.  It was joyful to watch. She was joined on the field by her 2 young grandsons, who play in Jays Care Indigenous Rookie League programs in northern Ontario. They were beside themselves with excitement, especially the younger one. And after her very credible throw, she was also joined on the field by the Jays mascot and the Jays catcher, Gabriel Moreno. So many messages wrapped up together; it was very special.

Residential school survivor Dolores Naponse throws the first pitch … BlueJays-throwout-2

BlueJays-throwout-1

After this moving pre-game ceremony, the game proceeded just as everyone in the stadium hoped, with 3 home runs and a 9-0 romp over the Red Sox. A celebration of the post-season to come followed. All in all, it was a night to remember. Thanks, Blue Jays! You’ve got this!!

The team celebrating making it to the Playoffs … BlueJays-Playoffs

BlueJays-logo

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19 Responses to Blue Jays baseball, Truth and Reconciliation, and playoffs ahead

  1. barryh says:

    Now isn’t baseball just like the rounders we played as kids? Why don’t you north Americans take up cricket?! (joke)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Lol. That’s certainly a not uncommon question from your side of the pond, Barry! I believe the best answer is “close, but no cigar.” We do have cricket pitches in many parts of Canada, including Fredericton, but it’s mostly played by people who come from other parts of the Commonwealth. Something for everyone!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Very moving indeed. I’m glad the team management thought to mark those moments and be so inclusive. Re: women tossing out the first pitch. It happened earlier this week in Chicago when 107 year old nun, Sister Jean, tossed one out at a Cubs game. Go Jays! – Marty

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nice! No wonder you wanted to write about it. Really love the jay and the leaf logo.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Roy McCarthy says:

    Brilliant! I think that pitch of Dolores was better than anything I could do. It certainly seemed an emotional, and very effective evening for those involved, and the crowd in the stadium.

    The idea of professional sporting franchises in USA/Canada – which are moveable – has always seemed very odd to us Brits. There is still bitterness over the moving and renaming of Wimbledon FC by the owners to Milton Keynes in 2002, the only instance I know of.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Lol, she must have been practicing ahead of time. I can’t imagine how intimidating that would have been!

      I agree about teams being moved. It’s totally disrespectful of local fans. It’s bad enough that players you’re loyal to get traded to competing teams. It didn’t used to be like this. Teams stayed put and players stayed put. Of course, it’s all about money. It seems that everything is about money.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Wynne Leon says:

    Wow – what a night and what a story! Our Seattle Mariners clinched the playoffs last night too but I love how the Blue Jays made such a statement with their game. Amazing!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. dfolstad58 says:

    I love our teams and I missed this game so this recap was much appreciated. Lots of orange shirts in town including nearly everyone in my house. I don’t think my Dad owns an orange shirt and understood the day meaning until we explained it to him. There was a special walk and special events also here. I have to get a blue jays shirt next. I wear my Sask Roughriders shirt and get lots of waves and hello. I remember wearing a BC Lions shirt at the Vatican. A priest came over to say hello, he was from Vancouver and spending a year or two working in Rome. – David

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Great story about encountering a friendly priest in Rome from BC, all because of your Lions shirt. We had a similar experience when wearing a UNB shirt at a wildlife sanctuary in Botswana. Someone came over to us because he had done grad work at UNB before returning home. Moral of our two stories: we are reminded of what a small world it is when we wear shirts with logos that others may relate to. Go, Jays!!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. heimdalco says:

    A very inspiring post & the reader can certainly understand your feelings about the night & the game. Tsuaki Marule singing the anthem in 3 languages was so heart warming followed by the 72-year-old throwing out the first ball … but not only her … having her grandchildren there with her was just wonderful & something they will remember forever. I can understand your emotional overload & the need to write about it. It is a lovely post.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m more of a hockey than a baseball fan, but I do appreciate the enthusiasm of Canadians and will be keeping my eye on the Jays this month.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. debscarey says:

    Oh gosh that took me right back to the time the ex and I went on holiday to New England and I suffered with dreadful jet lag. He was happy as a sand boy getting to watch the Blue Jays win the World Series while I slept! I guess it must’ve been ’92 or ’93. Disappointing really, as I was brought up playing softball well before rounders (or cricket!) and avidly read my Dad’s Sports Illustrated.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Pingback: Why Sports Make Me Feel Alive - Wise & Shine

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