Jays boost London baseball (photo gallery)
London Community News
By Jonathon Brodie/London Community News / Twitter: @jonathonbrodie
The Toronto Blue Jays packed the park Saturday morning (June 9) — Citywide Sports Park that is.
About 60 kids, ranging from eight to 14 years old, crowded into one of the Commissioner Road baseball diamonds to learn some of the basic tools of the game from qualified Blue Jays’ instructors at the professional ball club’s clinic.
The young baseball enthusiasts worked on everything from shagging pop flies and fielding routine groundballs to swinging the bat and running the bases.
“It’s one thing to be taught the proper mechanics from a parent volunteer and it’s another thing to be taught from a professional organization,” said Brandon Fox, president of the South London Baseball Association (SLBA), the organization hosting the event.
The expertise is exactly what A.D. Hollohan was hoping for when she enrolled her nine-year-old son into the clinic five months before the actual date. Last year she waited only a couple months before the session to sign up and the list was full.
“It’s a lot more concentrated, which is kind of nice. She’s correcting him with his steps,” Hollohan said as she watches one of the instructors personally tell her son where his feet should be when throwing a ball. “This is really honing in on the particulars.”
The special training session did more than just boost the young players’ skill, as the baseball association hosting the event sees an advancement as well.
In the last seven years SLBA has grown from 125 athletes (an all-time low in its 22-year history) to 350 this year.
A big reason for the group doubling its numbers in the local south community is because of its growing presence, said Fox, and when the SLBA puts its name alongside the Blue Jays it goes a long way in the Forest City.
“If you look around today we got kids from North London, South London, Dorchester, it’s not just within South London,” he said. “It’s citywide and it’s that exposure, so when people do leave North London.”
Helping getting the name out there goes both ways, though.
“We’re trying to market ourselves as Canada’s team,” said John Hashimoto, lead instructor at the Blue Jays clinic that goes across Canada throughout the summer. “We’re reaching out to the grassroots level to introduce the game to get as many kids involved, girls and boys, as we can into the sport.”