- Created on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 19:41
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By COLLIN STACHURA
It was a sea of blue and white at the St. Catharines Pen Centre as 500 fans stood in line for hours last Thursday for a chance to meet some of their Toronto Blue Jays idols.
Excited fans of all ages and walks of life were there for one reason – to meet the Jays. The two-hour evening ran well past its 8:30 p.m. shutdown time when the Jays put down the pens.
It was Stop No. 5 on the fourth annual Toronto Blue Jays 2014 Winter Tour presented by Toronto Dominion Bank.
The annual tour was resurrected in 2011 as a modern version of the winter caravans that travelled across Canada during the early years of the franchise. It is focused on Ontario cities and towns in the home area of the Toronto Blue Jays.
It was not just an opportunity for old and young Jays fans to see their favourite players up close but also a chance to get their autograph, something Rob Perrson, 34, was taking advantage of this year.
“I’ve been a fan of the Blue Jays ever since I was three years old,” says Perrson, who had been waiting in line since 4 p.m.
Over 500 excited fans started lining up before 2 p.m. Jays players that were at this tour stop were starting pitcher Brandon Morrow, pitchers Dustin McGowan, Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond. They were accompanied by Jays management and staff, and one Royal Canadian Mounted Police escort who stood next to the players the whole time.
With spring training a few months away, the Pen Centre was one of the last stops on the Jays’ Winter Tour. And support for the sport franchise is there for the future too.
The Moccio and Jantzo families are passing down their love for the Jays to their children.
Thirty-year fan Jeff Jantzo hopes his two sons will follow in his footsteps. “I’ve been a Jays fan since the 1980s, you know, when they used to win,” says Jantzo.
So, with no shortage of fans, it looks as if the Toronto Blue Jays will have a place in the hearts of Southern Ontarians for years to come.