Blue Jays put baseball on the Canadian map
More than ever, Canadians are talking about baseball.
When the Toronto Blue Jays, the only Canadian MLB team, made it to the playoffs for the first time since 1993, the country quickly rallied around them. Canadians watched the games live, on TV and took to Twitter with #ComeTogether to show their support for the national home team.
The Kansas City Royals eliminated the Jays from the playoffs in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Oct. 23, but the Jays’ impact may extend long past their postseason run.
Steve Schuster, radio broadcaster and account executive for the Winnipeg Goldeyes, said the increased national interest in baseball might help improve attendance at Shaw Park.
“The Blue Jays’ success will definitely help get more attention to us in Winnipeg,” he said. “The more kids get to see a professional baseball team, the more they’ll want to see the Goldeyes and want to play. It will definitely have a positive impact on the Goldeyes and the city in general.”
The Goldeyes finished second in the American Association’s attendance rankings with 258,922 total fans over the 2015 season. The front office at Shaw Park was impressed by the turnout and projects an even higher number next year.
“It’s great! We are doing better than minor teams in the states,” Schuster said.
Many Canadians may still see baseball as secondary to hockey, but the national sports culture is changing, especially at younger levels. Youth baseball seasons used to last for just three months. Now leagues across the country offer fall seasons and some kids play for up to five months through indoor training and winter programs.
Baseball is also becoming more popular at the university level. It led Regina native Geoff Macdonald to a post-secondary sports scholarship, a coaching opportunity with Arizona Christian University and the chance to play in California, Missouri and Arizona. As a Blue Jays fan, Macdonald said he’s proud to be Canadian, and he loves to see excitement and support for baseball and the team.
“The Blue Jays season and playoff run has been amazing thus far. Canadians are prideful and supportive people,” he said.
The 23-year-old said he believes baseball is not only a great sport but also a great teacher.
“Baseball is a game of failure. Life is about failure,” he said. “Baseball will teach you life lessons even after 20 years of being around the game. It’s an amazing thing.”