On Thursday, August 16th, the TORONTO BLUE JAYS and JAYS CARE FOUNDATION will be joined by 900 children and youth from 44 Toronto Community Housing (TCH) neighbourhoods on the field at Rogers Centre to celebrate the closing of the 24th season of Rookie League programming in the GTA. Blue Jays player Colby Rasmus will be on hand from 10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to welcome participants to the annual Rookie League Wrap Up, cheer on representatives from each neighbourhood in the Rookie League All-Star game, and distribute the CIBC Team Spirit Award, Coaches of the Year Awards and Teamwork & Sportsmanship Awards.
Following a Lesters Hot Dog lunch, all of the Rookie Leaguers will be given a backpack full of school supplies and will enjoy an afternoon of Blue Jays baseball programming, games and inflatables on Centre Island. Later that evening, all of the children and youth will return to the ballpark to watch the Toronto Blue Jays take on the Chicago White Sox. The winners of the CIBC Team Spirit Award, from Dixon Hall, will enjoy the game from the comforts of the Jays Care Community Clubhouse.
“Rookie League Wrap Up is a celebration I look forward to every year,” said Danielle Bedasse, Executive Director of Jays Care Foundation. “It’s the culmination of seven-weeks of baseball programming for kids from under-served communities across the GTA. It’s inspiring to see how the children have grown as a team and how the youth have developed as both leaders and coaches in their community.”
Rookie Leaguers have enjoyed seven, fully-subsidized, weeks of baseball programming at Stan Wadlow Park, Smythe Park, McGregor Park, and in each of their communities. Here, they have learned baseballs skills and gained the important life skills that come from being part of a team. Blue Jays starting pitcher Ricky Romero, catcher J.P. Arencibia, third baseman Brett Lawrie, centre fielder Colby Rasmus and left fielder Rajai Davis served as Honorary Division Captains and Blue Jays manager John Farrell served as Honorary Manager for the summer.
On Opening Day, July 4th, Romero, Arencibia and Davis dropped by Stan Wadlow Park to welcome the Rookie Leaguers, offer words of encouragement and discuss the importance of staying active, being a good sport and enjoying learning how to play baseball. That day, participants were each given a Rawlings glove, Blue Jays hat, water bottle, back pack and Rookie League shirt.
The 24th season of the Blue Jays Baseball Academy Rookie League program was made possible through the generous contributions of the following Jays Care Foundation supporters: CIBC Children’s Foundation, City of Toronto, East York Minor Baseball Association, Lesters Hot Dogs, Rawlings, Sue Vale, Toronto Police Services, Toronto Parks Forestry and Rec, and York Minor Baseball Association.
About Jays Care Foundation
Since 1992, Jays Care has created opportunities for children and youth in need by providing access to programs that promote regular physical activity, encourage the pursuit of higher education and impart fundamental life skills. The foundation has made possible the building of dedicated, accessible, safe youth spaces for recreational programming, inspiring engagement through the sport of baseball. In 2011 alone, Jays Care contributed more than $1.4 million to initiatives and facilities across Ontario and beyond, and provided 17,000 kids access to vital programs and services through Field of Dreams funding, Grand Slam Grants, the Home Run Scholars program and Rookie League camps. For more information, visit bluejays.com/jayscare and follow Jays Care on Twitter: @jayscare.