John McDonald grew up in Connecticut, about two hours north of Yankee Stadium and about two hours southwest of Fenway Park.
Since his father was a Yankees fan, McDonald's earliest memories of watching a Major League game came at Yankee Stadium during the Don Mattingly Era when he was 5 or 6. He was in attendance for an Opening Day game and an Old Timer's game, among others.
The trips into New York left a strong impression, but McDonald did have one regret.
"It was hard to get autographs," he said.
So now that McDonald is in the Major Leagues, he tries to make it possible for regular folks to get up close to the game. He and several Jays visited wounded American soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., during a road trip to Baltimore in 2007.
"We talked baseball for awhile," McDonald said.
Later McDonald was among those who made it possible for a wounded veteran to take batting practice prior to a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
"He swung the bat pretty well," McDonald said. "We are privileged and fortunate to play the game. I want to bring more people out to the park."
McDonald was honored in 2007 with the John Cerutti Award, named for the late Jays pitcher, by the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
"For me to be chosen was very nice," he said. "There are so many things done [by other players] that people don't see."
The award is given annually to the person associated with day-to-day workings of Blue Jays baseball who displays goodwill, cooperation and character as exemplified by Cerutti.
"A lot of people don't want to hear the good things. There are a lot more things that players do besides on the field," said McDonald, who made appearances for the Ronald McDonald House while with the Cleveland Indians. "There are so many positive things that people do."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.