By Andrew Hendriks
Canadian Baseball Network
TORONTO - With the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers tied in the seventh inning of this month’s American League Division Series Game 5, nine-year-old Oscar Wood watched intently from his family’s perch high above the left field wall at Rogers Centre.
On the astro-turfed playing surface below, the Rangers defense had combined for three consecutive errors, loading the bases and Josh Donaldson had knocked in a run, setting the table for his hero, Jose Bautista.
With strikeout artist --and former Jays hurler-- Sam Dyson on the hill for the Rangers, Oscar’s boys were in need of a spark, and despite the some 700 feet of distance separating the young fan from his baseball idol, Wood was fully prepared to help out in anyway he could.
When he was six, Oscar’s older sister Bella told their father Benn that, with a beard, he looked an awful lot like Jose. Of course, this action prompted the young man to want a beard of his own, and after pressing their parents, the Wood clan jokingly painted a beard on Oscar’s face so the two could share in the Jays slugger’s likeness.
Providing a whole new meaning to the term mini-bats, Oscar adopted the look every time his family took the short drive down the 400 from the Barrie area to attend Blue Jays games.
And Oct. 14th was no different.
As Bautista stepped to the plate, his biggest fan bolted for the isle, and mimicking the six-time all star’s patented power stroke, young Oscar zeroed on in home plate, patiently awaiting Dyson’s next delivery.
When the Rangers hard throwing right-hander delivered a 1-1 offering, both Bautista’s simultaneously swung for the fences, prompting an outcome that instantly sent the Dome into a roar.
In an age of smartphones, IPad’s and other photo sharing devices, cameras are rarely far from reach, and luckily for the Wood’s, Oscar’s father was able to capture the moment on film.
With their Blue Jays now leading the Rangers by three, Ben was quick to post the video of his young slugger on Instagram, and by the time Roberto Osuna was wrapping up Toronto’s ALCS berth in the 9th, his 30-second clip had officially gone viral.
Regardless of what you call it (magic, voodoo or sheer coincidence) many believe that Mini Bautista helped his idol launch Dyson’s ill-placed fastball over the wall, in Game 5, thus transforming the young fan into a cult hero of sorts in the weeks that followed.
His instant stardom prompted it’s share of responses from various media outlets, fans and professional sports leagues alike, one of which being Major League Baseball, who recently nominated the young slugger in a pair of categories including “Best Social Media Post” and ”Best Player-Fan Interaction” in this falls inaugural running of the Esurance MLB Awards.
Formally launched in 2015, the Esurance MLB Awards program provides fans with an opportunity to cast their votes in such categories as Best Fan Catch, Best Trending Topic and Best Social Media Personality, among others.
Complementing established accolades such as the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards, the program is designed to enhance the leagues online footprint, while being open to anyone who has access to both Facebook, Twitter and other social-media avenues.
There is no limit on how many times you can vote, and the polls come to a close on Nov. 13th.
Other Blue Jays related items on this year’s ballot include the following:
Josh Donaldson (Best major leaguer, best every day player, best defensive player, best offense, best defence)
David Price (Best major leaguer, best starting pitcher, best social media personality, best social media post, best MLB interview)
Roberto Osuna (best rookie)
Kevin Pillar (best defensive player, best defense)
John Gibbons (best manager)
Alex Anthopoulos (best executive)
Marcus Stroman (best social media personality)
Jose Bautista (best offense, best defense, best social media post, best social media interaction)
Edwin Encarnacion (best moment, best performance)
R.A. Dickey (best social media post)
7th inning, ALDS Game 5 (best trending topic)
Geddy Lee (best celebrity fan)
Stephen Amell (best celebrity fan)
You can support the Wood family and have your say on other compelling topics by clicking the following link: https://www.esurance.com/mlb?ts=6&PromoID=MLBDA0125
Esurance MLB Awards 2015