What a fantastic 74th surprise birthday gift. On September 11th my wonderful daughter Michelle and son-in-law Rob presented little old me with a nifty Toronto Blue Jay hoody, which I slipped into and paraded around the living room with great delight. It was then that I went into complete shock when I opened a neat brochure at the bottom of the box which revealed flights for four to Seattle, Washington as well as tickets in the lower section of Safeco field for a game between the Mariners and our beloved Toronto Blue Jays.
As somewhat of an ‘aging sports fanatic’ the dream of going to a Major League Baseball game has always been on my bucket list, but now just having the opportunity to share that joy with my wife Joyce and family members was overwhelming. From the moment we entered the Calgary International Airport to embark on our exciting four day adventure there was no doubt that the dedicated and fanatic ‘Blue Jay Canadian family’ (estimated to be 25,000 strong for more like three home games on the road.) were preparing to invade Seattle to cheer on their team’s desperate dash to grab another American League playoff berth in October. The flight was short, sweet, and shaky with a big tail wind, but we arrived safely and dashed into the Hotel bar just in time to grab a bite and watch the Jays come from behind and squeak out a 3-2 win in the first game of the set.
The next day we got up early and crawled along the I-5 with the rest of the mega- traffic, but the sun was shining as we enjoyed the views and then hopped on a harbour cruise that mingled among massive freighters loading thousands of containers as well as others which were unloading the morning fish catch of fresh fish to be shared at home or shipped around the world. After lunch, which you guessed it… was fish and chips, we toured the parks and other countless attractions, and then later grabbed the elevator for a quick trip up the famous Space Needle to enjoy a magnificent and ‘moving’ meal at 500 feet in the Sky City Restaurant followed by a windy but spectacular view from the observation deck. To end the busy day we watched the Jays bats finally come alive and whip the Mariners 10-2.
Early Wednesday morning we got all decked out in our Blue Jay regalia and headed out early in order get to the ball park, found a $25.00 game-day parking spot and were pumped and standing in line two hours before the 12:40 p.m. start. When the gates opened we were able to tour around the great facility, browse around the many souvenir shops, snapped some photos, and then joined the thousands of Toronto fans young and old as they filled one side of the 42,000 seat stadium to watch and cheer their team warm up and maybe even grab a cherished autograph, souvenir, or wave from their baseball heroes in blue. After settling into our seats we became part of a huge and thrilling ‘sea of blue and gray’, where the atmosphere became electric and noisy, we were mesmerized by the massive flashing centre field score-board, but made sure to grab one of those big scrumptious and loaded ball park hot-dogs before the game begun, along with a Seattle coffee and bag of caramel popcorn for five bucks American each. The pomp and pageantry of the National anthems was amazing, and then on with the game, which became a pitchers dual between Felix Hernandez, the King of Seattle, and Aaron Sanchez.
Then with the Mariners leading 1-0 and amidst thunderous high-fives and chants of ‘Let’s go Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista tied it with a home run in the 8th and my blood-pressure rose to a peak until the 12th inning when the home town team pulled out a thrilling victory. On Thursday we packed our bags, visited the absolutely massive and amazing Boeing Aircraft Plant near Everett, Washington (which has 35,000 employees and turns out a dozen 787s each month), and then headed for the airport for the trip home from an experience that we will never forget. Keep cheering for the sunshine and have a great week, all of you.