Two weeks ago, we went to a Blue Jays baseball game with our son in order to celebrate my Dad’s 73rd birthday.
Reader, I am not a sports fan. At best, I find sports boring. At worst, I find them to be unfortunate displays of some of the worst traits of humanity. Hyperbole? Perhaps. But to me, sports-watching is not an activity I’d associate with pleasure.
Here’s your however, however… this experience wasn’t bad. I think it was because it was something called Junior Jays Day, which I’ve learned is held every Sunday home game, as well as some select Saturdays. Junior Jays Days mean more kids at the park, better behaved adults, and an opportunity for the kids to get on the field and run the bases like the pros.
Getting tickets for a Jays matinee game, not during playoff time, isn’t a difficult thing. The Rogers Centre (which I personally believe should still carry the SkyDome name) is huge and there’s been very few total sell-outs at the place since the 1990s when the Jays won the World Series (twice). We sat on the 200 level around first base, the dome was open, and it was a beautiful, sunny, hot day in the city. We arrived about halfway through the game, given that we had to wait until our son woke from his nap. Entry was easy at this point in the game – no wait, no lines, just a bit of additional security and we were in.
Food and drink is pricey at the Rogers Centre, but I’m pretty confident that’s par for the course at most sports stadiums. Kian wanted a hot dog, and that wish was fulfilled, along with a parental wish for some soft-serve ice cream served in a souvenir plastic batters helmet. Perfect. You can bring your own snacks and drinks if you’re that way inclined. I am never prepared enough for such endeavours. We also bought my Dad a pretty awesome personalized jersey for his birthday.
“Hot” take: if the dome is open, it’s going to be hot. Wear appropriate clothes and hats and sunblock. Seriously. Either wear sunblock or be prepared to spend a lot of time in the corridors, watching the game on the screens there, because otherwise you’re going to burn and it’ll be your own fault.
Around the bottom of the 7th inning, all the parents and children in the stadium arise, sigh, and head to the exits where you join a line of other parents and children waiting to go onto the field after the game. Here’s my main criticism: there aren’t any screens in the exit corridors, so you can’t see the game or be otherwise entertained. It’s challenging to hold an almost-three-year-old’s attention even when there’s a ballgame to watch, so this was a bit much. Bring a fun toy or book or something, because you’ll be there for awhile.
The line starts to move down through the stadium after the game ends, until you finally end up at the door, looking up into the bright lights illuminating the field. It’s actually kind of amazing – you feel simultaneously like you’re experiencing something new, but also something you’ve imagined a million times. You walk out onto the field and realize that it’s all made of springy AstroTurf painted either green or brown or white. Your kid starts to get excited and point out all the cool stuff he can see, and you’re also pretty stoked to be able to do this. You reach first base and you find out only one parent can go with your kid, so you wave your husband off (sorry, honey, but this is clearly a Mummy activity given that she’s never actually wanted to do anything like this before this moment) and you run the bases with your only son while he tells you his stories and maybe you cry a bit because it’s ridiculous and special and something that you’re probably always going to remember. Maybe.
Then you hop on home plate and high five your kid, and tell them that they’re the real champion here. And then you climb the steps and head out into the Toronto summer day, saying that you’ll come back again soon.