Blue Jays attract fans from coast-to-coast down to Spring Training

Canadian families travel thousands of miles heading to Florida

Ryan Keeping (left), Braeden Roach (centre), and Joe Bakes (right) enjoy a pre-game meal before taking in the action between the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers. Mushtaq Nizamdin/Toronto Observer

Hundreds of autographs

Michigan is not as far from Florida as both Alberta and Nova Scotia, but Terri Nummer has a soulful reason to follow the Detroit Tigers for more than a decade at Spring Training.

Terri has chased the Tigers for years determined to collect player’s autographs.

Her collection totals more than 400.

“I’m interested first of all in baseball because my grandpa and my dad were both very big Tigers fans. I’ve started collecting autographs about 15 years ago,” she said.

It all began for her with a 1984 Detroit Tigers’ mug.

“The first person to sign was Sparky Anderson right before he passed away”, the Michigander said. “That mug has about 25 signatures on it now.”

Anderson was the Tigers manager for the team’s 1984 World Series title.

But Anderson is not Terri’s favourite autograph. That honour belongs to Alan Trammell, a Hall of Famer who was also part of Detroit’s championship team.

“To me it’s never about buying and selling”, Terri said.

All saved signatures are given a space in her Tigers room. If she’s able to get an extra autograph it’s always donated to her cancer charities.

Terri’s tradition is renewed every baseball season, but will probably miss its most wanted name in 2019.

“I really wanted today to see Vlad Guerrero Jr.”, she said.

The Toronto rookie third baseman wasn’t on the field for the Blue Jays against the Tigers.

So Terri already has a reason to show up in 2020 Spring Training — yet another one.

By Caio Miari

LAKELAND, Fla. — Spring Training in Florida means vacation time for the Canadians that attend.

Travelling from as far west as Grand Prairie, Alta., a baseball family of six made their way to Florida instead of waiting until the end of the month when the Blue Jays are in Toronto.

“Well that’s almost as far for us actually. It’s quite the flight to Toronto and we just thought we’d make a family holiday out of it,” Miles Coristine said.

The Coristine-Chernard family are looking forward to seeing Universal Studios, though “baseball is what attracted us but the rest of its just a perk being here,” Coristine said.

Despite the cold and rainy weather for Tuesday’s game between the Blue Jays and the Detroit Tigers, the family hopes to, “enjoy the outdoors and not 35 below [weather] and watch a good ball game.”

The two youngest boys Konner, 9, and Keanan, 7, are quite the pair of mini Blue Jays players.

Konner has become his grandpa’s protégé in place of his mother, Jennifer Chenard, who is a baseball fan but not as much as her two boys.

“My grandpa would make my mom go and watch [games] and now he does the same thing with me, but I actually watch,” said Konner.

“I don’t watch as much as he [Konner] does but I still know a few players,” said Keanan. 

When asked which of the players he knows, Keanan responds, “I only know two of them,” as he and his brother turned around showing off the jerseys of former Jays, Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki.

As far west as the Coristine-Chernard family came from, fellow attendee Joe Bakes demonstrates the same eagerness to watch Blue Jays Spring Training, coming all the way from Truro, Nova Scotia.

Unlike the Coristine-Chernard family, Bakes and his friends make Spring Training a regular holiday.

“It’s a yearly thing for us to come down here. We usually come down March 1st and stay until about April 1st,” he says.

Travelling all the way from the Maritimes, Bakes does the 36-hour drive every year so he and his friends can watch the Jays play all over Florida.

From Clearwater to Lakeland to Kissimmee and sometimes as far as West Palm Beach, Bakes and his group will go all over supporting the Blue Jays during the pre-season.

“[We come for] the atmosphere; it’s great, you actually intervene with the guys, with the players.”

Bakes and his group are true fans. They drive all the way to Florida to see they Jays and be able to have a chance to interact with the players. But why not just wait until the regular season?

“It’s very affordable. We can pick up a bunch of games here for a lot less.”

About this article

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Posted: Mar 6 2019 4:38 pm
Edition: Toronto
Filed under: Special Reports Baseball Sports