By Melissa Verge
Canadian Baseball Network
Tournament 12 is an opportunity for young baseball talent in Canada to shine.
It’s also an event for the entire family.
Parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, left behind work, retirement, and school, walked through Gate 9 of the Rogers Centre, and morphed into baseball cheerleaders.
It was heartwarming to see the great support network the players had behind them.
I watched a mom and son exit the stadium into the night. The son, now taller than his mom, looked tired from the game. His mom looked tired too, she had probably been there just as long as her son, cheering him on proudly from the stands. The two blonde heads bobbed off into the darkness. The son probably dreaming of the MLB, the mom possibly of padded stadium seats.
Earlier, a mom and her two daughters had come in all wheeling giant suitcases looking frazzled. They were from Fredericton, N.B. The two girls were there cheering on their brother. The mom was there for her son.
I imagined the parents had driven to many different baseball tournaments throughout their kids playing career, but T12 probably took the cake. Scouts from more than 20 major league teams, and recruiters from more than 15 universities and colleges sat in the stands.
You could tell the scouts from the fans- they had a particular sort of walk about them.
“On the prowl” would be a good way to describe it.
It’s like they were constantly hunting for fresh talent, like lions in search of meat.
And the players all strutted in with lots of confidence. They were the best amateur talent in Canada, and they knew it. The MLB was so close that they could taste it.
I can imagine it probably tasted like all the dirt and sweat built up from years of work. And maybe a hint of that freshly cut outfield grass. I mean, sweat and dirt and freshly cut grass probably doesn’t sound like the most desirable combination, but in a way that’s a big part of baseball.
You sweat a lot, and sometimes you eat dirt. And in your little league days, back when most of these kids first started playing, sitting in the outfield when you got tired of standing and lazily pulling out fistfuls of grass was a popular thing.
They had all come a long way from the days of playing t-ball on a nondescript ball park in who knows where.
They were now in front of one of what was probably to date the most important audience they had ever had. The scouts, the President of Baseball Canada, Ray Carter, all the Blue Jays alumni, including Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar and his Hall of Fame father Sandy Alomar.
Of course, the ones who had been there since day one were there too.
The ones who watched them play when they were too young to know what the MLB event was, who spent hours sitting on wooden park benches cheering them on.
Their most dedicated fans, mom and dad.
(Melissa Verge was working security at Gate 9 during Tournament 12, but that did not prevent her from making some observations on the crowd entering and leaving the Rogers Centre.)