Jays From the Couch writer professes her love for Toronto Blue Jays slugger, Edwin Encarnacion
There’s just something about Edwin Encarnacion.
Maybe it was the moment in game 5 of the ALDS..when things went flying and people went crazy and he gently tried to calm people down. Or maybe it was the look on his face when, after his third home run of the game, it was explained why the fans were throwing all those hats onto the field. Somehow, the love affair with the ball player that is EE happened. It’s just hard to pinpoint how or when it started.
Edwin Encarnacion, a hometown hero in La Romana, Dominican Republic made his debut on June 24, 2005 for the Cincinnati Reds. By 2009, EE had made Toronto and the Blue Jays his baseball home. He is a two time all-star (2013, 2014) and the fact that we kind of got him by accident — Cincinnati wouldn’t accept the trade unless EE went too — has made it one of the best trades in Blue Jays history. (for more on the man, head to his Wikipedia page)
This guy’s career has so many highlights it’s impossible to include them all, (the love affair continues). From tying and surpassing club records, to being named player of the month by both the MLB and BBWAA, he just keeps on impressing and gaining respect.
This past season he was amazing and hypnotizing to watch. Let’s face it, he was on fire. He had a 24 game hit streak going, broke franchise records for RBI in a single month, surpassed Jesse Barfield on the Jays all time home run list (180 with the club) and in August 2015, was named the American League Player of the Month for the second time in his career, batting .407 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI. Did I mention the really awesome way he carries his arm like a wing when he hits a home run?
Amazing for a guy who had a pretty humble start. As a boy, EE picked mangoes from the trees in his yard, selling them down by the river, and throughout his childhood he played vitilla, which is a street baseball game using sticks for bats, and the cap of a water bottle spun like a frisbee as the ball. If anyone has ever seen this, it is near- impossible to hit!! Secret weapon for his power hitting maybe?
EE’s baseball career started when he was a kid in a Dominican little league named after the guy who ran it, Oscar Rivera, and he is undoubtedly the most famous alumnus from that organization. He is a superstar in Toronto, but definitely in his element when he’s back home. EE often goes back to that same field, and watches the next generation of budding players. Encarnacion spoke of this to Stephen Brunt of Sportsnet.
“I was just like these guys. It’s still the same. Things don’t change much. Oscar taught me to play, to catch the ball, hit the ball. Here, they just go play the game, play ball, enjoy the game. We had a great team in those times. We had the best team in La Romana. We didn’t lose many games.”
It’s this gentle hometown attitude that has enchanted us ( well, definitely me) up here in the 6ix. His Twitter feed is usually made up of pictures of his large family (he has a huge number of siblings!) and encouraging words for friends. He seems to live and breathe baseball and most definitely plays with heart..a sentiment EE has spoken of publicly. “We even told him, ‘Dad, we need some lights because we want to hit at night,’ and he did that. I had this game in my heart.”
With his background, his humility and his playing with feeling, it has been completely easy to love all that is EE. He brings power and heart to the Jays that most hope the “powers that be” won’t forget when it comes time to pay the piper to have him stay. With spring training just about to start –and it being publicly stated that contract issues be dealt with before the season opening– many are hoping that EE, who to many is the epitome of what a Blue Jay should be, will be blue for a while longer.
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.