With former Toronto Blue Jays players Duane Ward, Jesse Barfield, Lloyd Moseby and Homer Bush signing autographs behind him, Baseball B.C. executive director David Laing said the success of Canada's lone major league team is key for the growth of the sport.
After some shrewd off-season moves like the acquisition of pitcher R.A Dickey and outfield Melky Cabrera, the Jays are expected to contend for the American League East title when the season begins in earnest next week.
"If they go out and compete for a playoff spot this year and make the playoffs and take a run at a championship, this sport nationally wins," Laing said.
Laing remembers the impact the Jays had on baseball in the late 1980s and early 1990s as they built up to their back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. He said with the groundwork the organization has laid in recent years with its camps and off-season appearances has helped even more.
"They're working so hard re-connecting with the youth and amateur baseball communities across Canada," he said.
Events like the World Baseball Challenge, which will take place this summer at Prince George Citizen Field, and the Blue Jays Honda Super Camp underway this week at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre also help attract young people to the sport, Laing said.
"We're getting more kids playing the game and we're getting more kids excited about our sport, which is a battle in our world with hockey and soccer and lacrosse," he said. "The 70 or 80 kids who are here this week are indicative of that success."