Blue Jays' charity Home Run Derby a success
Event helps raise more than $100,000 for programs, communities across Toronto
TORONTO -- The only thing missing Wednesday morning at Rogers Centre was Chris Berman saying, "Back, back, back, gone."
Blue Jays alumni and Jays Care Foundation came together Wednesday for the Roberto Alomar & Friends Charity Home Run Derby in which 32 fundraisers participated in a tournament that closely resembled the one that will be a part of the annual Midsummer Classic in New York City.
"It's a great event," said Mike Ostfield, one of four representing the Richmond Hill Men's Rec Baseball League team. "It's my third year doing it. It's fun to come out and try to hit one out … [and] talk to the alumni."
The alumni in attendance included: Devon White, Jesse Barfield, Homer Bush and the aforementioned Alomar, who interacted with the participants, gave tips and posed for countless photos. All of them were more than happy to do it.
"That's what it's all about," Alomar said. "Meeting some great people and having fun with them."
The commitment and dedication from former players is not lost on Jays Care Foundation Executive Director Rob Drynan.
"It's really important," Drynan said. "Some of these guys are busy, but they often drop stuff just to help us out. They love being a part of the community. I think they really enjoy seeing their fans and people that have supported them for a long time. It's huge for us."
From the eight teams and 32 participants, Jays Care was able to raise more than $137,000 for their initiatives that will be put back into communities across Toronto.
Programs such as Rookie League, funding for safe spaces, ballpark refurbishments and baseball camps for underprivileged children are just some of the initiatives that Jays Care will be putting the money towards.
"It's always nice to give back to the community," Alomar said. "Especially with Jays Care, who have done such a great job with the communities in Toronto and all throughout Canada."
Wednesday's Home Run Derby was just one of three the foundation is holding, with one in Vancouver on June 26 and the final one in Calgary on Aug, 1.
It's all part of a drive to access all reaches of Canada as the nation's only Major League team.
"There's a lot of fans of baseball, so we're trying to access those fans to do good work," Drynan said. "It's kind of cool that the Blue Jays can have that kind of impact across the country."
"It's good to be reaching not only here in Toronto but to all of Canada," Alomar said. "This is the only Canadian baseball team that we have now, and it's good to be a part of it."
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.