Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training Games start today, Jays From the Couch brings you a series of our writers and their personal connection to spring baseball
Spring Is In The Air..
Spring Training…the culmination of a countdown that starts right after the last pitch is thrown. It is the dessert after a great dinner, it is the appetizer to an anticipated meal. It is the beginning of hopes and dreams of a team, a city, a country. It’s simply the beginning.
I remember going to the Ex as a kid, sitting in the bleacher seats, hot dog in hand — just mustard, I’m a purist– cheering for the Jays. I come from a big family, so it was either a huge production when all of us went, or special time with Dad when we got to go just with him. Everything about it was awesome, from the subway down to Bathurst station and the streetcar to the grounds. The endless concrete ramps up to our seats and back down stairs to get there. It was just fun, the whole experience of it all. It was also about connecting with my dad, celebrating victories and coming to terms with losses. I saw the good, the bad an the ugly in my childhood baseball experiences, with two World Series wins to add to that mix. Good times.
Now, as Spring Training looms ahead, I can’t help but think of what that means to me now. This time it is me taking those little hands on a subway ride, and on a colourful and musical walk to the Rogers Centre — I still totally call it the dome– to the endless concrete ramps to our seats and back down stairs to get there. The stadium has changed, the world has changed, but the feelings are perfectly the same.
In my life, baseball has been gift. It has given me a way to connect with my boys after the loss of their dad a few years ago. Going to games and talking trades and stats, fave at bats and bad pitches all became part of the conversation, an escape from the heavy stuff kids this young shouldn’t have to deal with. At a time when everything was exploding in their little world, baseball was a happy place, a steadying place. It made the world seem normal again. It was also a time when, just as I worried that feelings and emotions were being held in, I found we had the perfect proxy. Railing at the strike zone and being upset over bad safe or out calls, to celebrating that grand slam, that awesome bat flip, that incredible strike out. It had become an understandable metaphor for the ups and downs of life. An emotional outlet if you will, that was needed so badly at that time and still is.
Baseball has been part of my growing up. It was a part of my childhood, my adolescence, and now my adulthood. It is again giving me precious memories, hysterically funny memories and needed joyful memories –maybe a few “I’ll tell you when you’re older” memories in the mix. It’s given me another language to speak, connecting to my boys on an entirely different level.
Now when I’m asked what Spring Training means to me, all these things come to mind. There’s a jumble of funny stories, wild pitches, crushing losses and euphoric wins and triumphs in my head. It’s the short answer that I always give though. Spring Training, for me, means beginnings and the creation of new memories, not to mention a whole lot of excitement and anticipation.
*Featured Image Credit: jcsullivan24 UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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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.