Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
August, 11, 2014, Seattle, WA (ISN) – With all due apologies to any die-hard Montreal Expos fans who are still clinging to fond memories, there is no doubt at all that in 2014, the Toronto Blue Jays are indeed Canada’s baseball team. That fact was plain to see Monday night in Seattle when mobs of blue-cladded fans invaded Safeco Field, outnumbering, by this author’s estimate, the number of Mariners fans by more than half.
These young ladies were just two of many Blue Jays fans who came decked out in full face paint and jerseys to support their team (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
They came by bus, they came by train, they came by car, they came by plane. They endured 1.5 to 2 hour waits at the border crossings from British Columbia into Washington State. They, like me, are paying ridiculously expensive hotel rates and in some cases up to $40 per night to park your car. And if you think that the majority of Blue Jays fans in attendance on Monday came only from British Columbia, think again.
It was difficult if not impossible to find any Mariner fans crowded around the field during batting practice Monday as a Blue Jays invasion took place at Safeco Field in Seattle (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
This article was to focus on that aspect of this series, but instead, the first folks that I met were a family of five from Langenburg, Saskatchewan, a town so far east in the Province that it might as well be in Manitoba. Randy McDonell, his wife Dawn and his kids Jake, Madi and John, all decked in Blue Jays jerseys, hopped into their car Sunday, drove three hours to the first town large enough to have a major train station (and if my geography is correct that likely was Regina) and then boarded a train for a 28 hour ride to Seattle. Yes TWENTY-EIGHT! Thank goodness Randy said they were here for all three games!
Randy McDonell (right), his daughter Madi (centre) and son Jake (left) along with wife Dawn and other son John (not pictured), drove 3 hours and then took a train for 28 from Langenburg, Saskatchewan just to attend the Jays series against the M’s (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
So moving on down the line of Blue Jays fans crowded along the third base-line looking for autographs, I came across a group of young lads each with a letter painted on their bare chests which of course formed the word “JAYS” when they stood in the correct order. Surely I thought these were some creative souls from Abbotsford perhaps, or Langley. Wrong! Edmonton! Well more precisely they were from Stony Plain and were members of the town’s Midget AA baseball team that was in Seattle for Sunday’s game against the White Sox and Monday’s against the Jays. At least they took a more conventional way here and flew.
The Midget AA Baseball boys from Stony Plain, Alberta include (L to R) Nate Perry (left, gray Jays jersey), Ryley Smith (orange glasses). Jordan Moore (The “J”), Brendan Badry (The “A), Riley Rodgers (The “Y”), Lucas Barker (The “S) and James Duke (the head between the A and the Y)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Moving on down the line, the cutest little girl in her Jays hat and Jays shirt was chanting “Go Jays Go!” non-stop and at the top of her lungs. Ah yes! This must be a young lady from Vancouver, surely this must. Wrong again. Czar, Alberta. Czar? Yep, way out there in the eastern part of the Province between the booming metropolises of Hardisty and Provost. I am not even sure I remember how the little girl, Taylor Swanson, and her parents Ashley and Clinton got to Seattle from Czar, but I can’t imagine it was a short trip.
Czar, Alberta’s Taylor Swanson was doing her best “Go Jays Go” cheer before the game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Continuing on in my quest to find someone in the stands who was a Jays fan from British Columbia, I noticed R.A. Dickey signing autographs for two attractive young ladies. Jackpot! “We’re from Maple Ridge!”, said Kelly Dermott and Brii Nelson. Finally, someone from B.C. It was Kelly and Brii who informed me of the lengthy wait at customs, which fortunately I had avoided by catching the earliest ferry from Victoria and beating most of the blue clad army to the border.
Maple Ridge, BC’s Kelly Dermott (left) and Brii Nelson were ecstatic to have some of their things signed by the Jays R.A. Dickey (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
I also bumped into Nadia Cornejo, another B.C. native and from Victoria like me. She was excited to be at tonight’s game, even though she just here for the one night and she summed it up best, “I like them because they are Canada’s team.”
These young ladies were not afraid to show which Blue Jay they favoured the most (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Yes Nadia, they are Canada’s team. They are the team of the girls with the #19 Joey Bats sign. They are the team of the young eager eyed lads straining to get baseballs signed by the likes of Marcus Stroman and Aaron Loup. They are the team of the girls with blue and white face paint and Canadian maple leaf on their face. They are the team of that portion of the 41,168 fans who chanted “Go Jays Go!” louder than Mariner fans chanting “Go Mariners Go!” on numerous occasions.
The young lad on the right is all focus as he goes to catch a ball just signed by the Blue Jays Marcus Stroman (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Last but not least, the Blue Jays are the team of the family of six I bumped into in the hotel elevator after the game, all clad in Blue Jays jerseys and all downcast because the Jays were thumped by the Mariners 11-1 (see related story), but not feeling too bad about it because they were at least here to see a game or two – from Alberta of course!
This group of young Blue Jays fans, including (R to L), Teigan McAuley, Dallen Anderson, Brody Anderson and Aidan Anderson, were waiting patiently for autographs prior to the game against Seattle on Monday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The blue invasion will continue Tuesday and Wednesday at Safeco Field in Seattle. GO JAYS GO!
Christian J. Stewart is a regular contributor to ISN. Follow him on Twitter @cjs_photography and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/christianjstewartphotography and look for more of his Seattle Mariners photography at http://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/seattlemariners