May 20, 2017
My Family, my love of the game
By Jessica Ng
Canadian Baseball Network
Family is a funny thing – sometimes, they drive you places; other times, they drive you crazy.
Mine got me into sports before I could appreciate it.
Thank goodness, I do now.
“Life is about teamwork and communication,” my father, Baldwin Ng, told me in an interview. “Relationships and working with other people to accomplish your end goal.
“In baseball, that’s what it’s all about.”
I was familiar with these concepts, as they are pillars in artistic work.
My background is in performance. I studied jazz voice in my undergrad, and went to Spain for my Master of Music.
After years as a musician and teaching at a private college, the search was on for my next adventure. It was time to use that creative mind that, for so long, had only been exercised in the arts.
It is and was fun, but I wanted more.
Then I found a new passion – it was already in my life and on the TV.
If a ball game is on, my parents are watching it. They love America’s pastime.
“We played in a rec league,” my father said. “[With] longtime friends, it was an opportunity to get together, chill and hang out.”
They did well on the field – Dad was a utility player and Mom, Eva, played second base.
Her abilities were apparent playing catch when we were young, and in tennis now. Mom approaches a high shot like a fly ball, eyeing its descent.
“Your mom was always a good baseball player, understanding the nuances,” he said. “Her [school] team won the city championship.”
They started me early. At just over eight months old, I had my first ballpark experience:
"You were so young. You just sat on the table. A family friend invited us for our anniversary every year. He worked at Windows, a restaurant that opened up into the playing field – it was where the West Jet Flight Deck is now. You could have a meal and you could watch baseball. It was an annual thing." - Baldwin Ng.
Mom adores the sport. She was pregnant with my brother during the 1993 World Series, and we say that she waited until the fanfare started dying down to give birth.
Family fandom moved to new heights when my dad won an all-expenses paid trip to spring training – the grand prize at one of the charity golf tournaments hosted by the Blue Jays.
“We spent almost two weeks down in Florida – traveling back and forth, enjoying the ball games,” he said. “Spring training is very intimate and cozy, and players are so much closer.”
Although my mother named me Jessica after the All-Star right fielder Jesse Barfield, she admired another player who, in her words, was “cute and talented.”
“We had a chance to mingle with some of the players, and take pictures with them,” Dad said. “Your mom took a picture with Alex Gonzalez – her favourite player at that time – so she had a heyday.”
Growing up in Toronto, our family went down to the Dome often.
At the time, it wasn’t my favourite activity – Mom got me to go on the promise of cotton candy, so I was there to enjoy some sun and snacks.
“You had no issue going to baseball games,” my father said, “because you had a chance to go down there and eat.
“And then you’d say, ‘Okay, what’s next on the menu?’”
Through the golf tournament, he met Carlos Delgado, the Jays franchise home run leader and first baseman. They were in the same foursome, and became fast friends.
As a result, I met him on a few occasions.
"I remember sitting along the front seats by third base, and you, your mom and your brother were there. We yelled out, “Carlos!” He came running over to say hi, and this was the first time your mother had met him. He was very polite. He said, 'How are you, Mrs. Ng?' Then when he left, she joked, 'I didn’t know your mother was here.'” - Baldwin Ng.
Even with my relatively undeveloped appreciation, I remember thinking that was pretty cool.
I started watching more and more as I got older.
Around the dinner table, we would discuss the latest news, plays, and trades. It became an increasingly large part of household conversation.
With Edwin Encarnacion floating in free agency last year, we had our plates full trying to solve it – we really thought we could. Heavy debates ensued when the DH signed with the Cleveland Indians.
I never thought I would be into baseball, and yet I find more to love about it with each day.
It is unique – no matter what you predict, there are always elements of the game that surprise you.
When I stood outside the Blue Jays third base dugout for the first time, my heart was beating. I knew that was where I was supposed to be.
Baseball, I’m here to stay – and I have my parents to thank for that.