When was the last time you felt like a kid in all the best ways? Recently, the crew at Rogers Centre – home of the Toronto Blue Jays™ – groomed the field to perfection to welcome some unconventional rookies.
Ten lucky Gold WestJet Rewards members and their guest were invited to attend the Blue Jays Field Clinic, presented by WestJet as thanks for flying with us. These Gold members frequently fly our Simplicity routes between Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and beyond, and are among our “MVFs” – Most Valuable Flyers.
As they take to the playing field of Rogers Centre, the excitement is palpable. As is the sweat. The temperature soared to 28°C (82.4 F) outside, it felt hotter in the stadium. But the heat couldn’t dim the ear-to-ear grins as would-be players take pictures on every inch of the field.
“This is really making me feel like a kid again!,” one guest from Montreal said with glee.
Then, we’re ushered behind the visitors’ bullpen and into a dressing room. Jaws drop at the sight of the stalls set up in the room – each displaying a personalized nameplate, a crisp Blue Jays jersey, as well as a Rawlings baseball glove.
We hit the field. Schoolyard games of catch break out. We run the bases. We jump on home plate!
Everyone gathers in the dugout and the Blue Jays Field Clinic coaches are introduced. They include two former all-star players: relief pitcher Duane Ward and centre fielder, Devon White. Both members of the back-to-back World Series Champion Blue Jays teams.
“Devon White! Well, this is amazing!,” another “MVF” can be heard saying from the field.
Some take to the batting cages. Some head for a throwing session with Ward. Others jump into a fielding lesson with White.
The batting cage was a first for some. We all took some pretty good swings to make contact on that “sweet spot.” Yup, we were ready for the game to come.
Ward did his best to remind all of us just how old and out of shape we were. But he did it with a wink and a smile and gave us all some good laughs. Still, we attempted to throw the ball straighter than we ever have before.
White did his best to turn this group of Gold WestJet Rewards members into gold glove contenders. Some good catches were made in left field, but the scouts were not in the stands.
The horn blows. We are ready to play an actual game on the field where Joe Carter touched ’em all in ’93, and Jose Bautista showed fans the bat flip to end all bat flips in the 2015 playoffs.
I took a moment to mention to White that it wasn’t his amazing off-the-wall catch that made the “triple play that wasn’t” in the ’92 World Series, but his unreal throw to second base. He smiles, eyes go wide and exclaims, “I know, right?! Everyone overlooks that. Now, that was a great throw!” We laugh and make our way to the dugouts to get the game started.
The game went for an hour and everyone had an absolute blast. After about three-and-a-half innings the team in white jerseys defeated the team in dark blue jerseys. However, on this day, everyone was a winner! Especially because current Blue Jays knuckleball pitcher, RA Dickey, came out to meet and chat with everyone on the field. A genuinely nice guy who took the time to sign autographs, answer questions and take pictures with all his fans. Now that’s an all-star moment.
That night, we take in the Blue Jays game against the Houston Astros from a luxury suite. One of our gold members from Ottawa, Jody Lavoie, took a moment from the game to give us his thoughts on WestJet bringing him in to play at Rogers Centre.
“I’m in Toronto a lot for work, but what an experience to be able to come in gate five, and straight onto the field. You don’t realize how enormous the building is and how enormous the experience is until you walk out on the field. For me, sliding into second base like it was bottom of the ninth, game seven of the World Series was the most amazing part of the experience.”
Lavoie also talked about the surprise and delight WestJet provided.
“Surprise and delight, let’s talk about that. Whether I show up at the airport late or I show up early, you guys fix my problems and then to get invited to an event like this, where you meet current Jays’ players…it’s unbelievable, you can’t beat it!”
A pretty perfect way to finish off this spectacular WestJet Rewards Gold members event. As an official partner of the Toronto Blue Jays, we’d like to thank them for helping us make this day a success. And obviously, a huge thank you to all of our Gold WestJet Rewards members who participated. We look forward to welcoming you on board again-and-again. And hey, don’t miss out on your chance to be part of a similar experience, sign up as a WestJet Rewards member today.
As always, Go Jays Go!