It wasn’t life-changing. It wasn’t inspirational. I won’t even do it again because a second time can’t possibly be as good as the first. So what was “it”? Well, “it” was something I did to help someone else have an amazing experience, only a funny thing happened — I had an amazing experience too.
My friend from high school has been living in Vancouver for ten years now. When my wife and I arrived in Vancouver last spring we didn’t know anyone, but another funny thing happened. We posted a pic on Facebook atop Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park, and he immediately sent us a message. We’ve been hanging out with him and his girlfriend ever since. They’ve been a huge reason we’ve had so much fun in Vancouver. His sister even hosted us for Thanksgiving last year as we all enjoyed the Donaldson Dash.
Last September, the Toronto Blue Jays visited Seattle and the four of us planned on driving down there in the morning, catching the game, then driving back. It was going to be an epic day-long event. But something came up at work, and only the three of us went. So, my friend didn’t get to enjoy the game or the drive.
When the 2017 baseball schedule came out we learned the Jays would be visiting early, but not often. This would be their only visit to Seattle, and it was going to be a weekend series. I thought nothing of it — been there done that. But my friend wanted to go. He HAD to go. He was scoping tickets. He was trying to convince me to join him. I was reluctant. I didn’t want to fork over any more money — hey, our dollar is only worth 74 cents US. But I caved to the peer pressure and said I’d go to one game with him. He bought tickets for both Saturday and Sunday’s games. I was now going to two games.
As time led up to the event my friend’s excitement grew with each and every day, like a kid waiting for Christmas. I remained nonchalant. Even on the drive there I was pretty mellow about the games ahead.
Unlike the previous year in which we arrived late (due to border wait times and traffic), we arrived in Seattle with plenty of time for Saturday evenings’s game allowing us to visit some of Seattle’s famous tourist attractions. And then a funny thing happened. We noticed several blue shirts. Not just any blue shirts — Toronto Blue Jays shirts. And they were everywhere.
Seattle Overrun With Canadians!
We ventured over to a bar beside Seattle’s ball stadium — Safeco field (I’ve come to learn that after 2018 it will no longer be called Safeco field either). There was definitely a buzz in the crowd — beer will do that to people. We chatted up many fellow Canadians while there as well as the hometown Mariners fans. But we Canucks were everywhere!
Saturday’s game started much like a U2 concert in BC, the lineup wasn’t moving fast enough to get us in to see the game on time. We did end up getting in fairly routinely, but somehow I lost my friend. Actually, he went up an escalator and I went to our ticketed seats, so I spent the game indulging in yelling juice, chatting with some nice people, and having a great time as the Jays won 4-2.
Sunday’s festivities would be much of the same. Some bocce ball with ladies from Red Deer, Alberta, taught us that ladies from Red Deer are experts at Bocce Ball. A group of guys originally from Canada’s east coast were celebrating another buddy getting married — and they had the cup to prove their whereabouts for each time they lost a friend to the ‘ole ball and chain’.
There seemed to be WAY more Canadians on Sunday too. Just before getting to our seats for the top of the first, we heard a roar from the crowd and figured Seattle did something great. Nope. Blue Jays home run. And the cheering didn’t stop there. Chants of “U-S-A” were overthrown by a roaring Jays crowd screaming “Go-Jays-Go”.
We heard that the average attendance for a Mariner’s games is a little over 20,000. Average attendance with Toronto in town was over 45,000. Seattle fans couldn’t seem to complete with the noise of 25,000 semi-drunken Canadians (it is only American beer).
But Seattle did something else as they hosted us Canucks; they acted very Canadian. They welcomed us. They were polite. They were accommodating. Cab drivers loved us. Restaurants that were overflowing with Blue Jays jerseys were happy to top up our drinks. And Mariner’s fans were not just humble — they were respectable and friendly to their border-sharing neighbours.
I worked at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre for numerous years. Not even when rival Montreal would visit would the arena (let alone the city) be overrun with Montreal Canadiens fans. I’ve been to numerous Toronto Blue Jays games where the New York Yankees seemed to bus in fans from Western New York, helping fill the empty seats during the late 90’s and early 2000’s. But they never dominated the stands and city like we saw in Seattle on June 9th through 11th, 2017.
This weekend in Seattle was something I’ve never seen nor heard of in the sporting world. Another team’s fans coming to town and completely overrunning the home town. Even sportscasters and players alike were shocked at the event. To think I was reluctant to go at first, and now I’ve got an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
tip of the cap to all fans that made their way to Seattle this weekend…could be one of the coolest experiences in all of sports #BlueJays
— Joe Siddall (@SiddallJoe) June 12, 2017
An now a “full circle” story
Some more history on my friend and I; Barry and I grew up in the small town of Bowmanville, east of Toronto. We’ve known each other since grade school, went to the same parties during high school — and at one point, I used his drivers license as my own fake ID. As mentioned, while in Seattle we went to a bar beside the stadium. But in the States they ask for ID from everyone, regardless of age. Barry forgot about this tidbit, and didn’t have his ID. It was my moment to pay him back. I offered him my Ontario Health Card, which had a photo. He gave the ‘bouncer’ my ID, the bouncer gave him a once-over, asked him to remove his sunglasses, looked at the ID again, then handed him back the ID and let him in. It’s nice to repay a favour 20 years later!
Oddly enough, another friend from Bowmanville was also in attendance celebrating his 40th birthday. He lived directly across the street from me growing up. Happy 40th Craig Vatcher — that’s one of the most epic 40th birthdays you’ll ever have!
Oh, in all the excitement I completely forgot to mention…I ate fried grasshoppers — check it out!
Now go sell all your stuff and eat grasshoppers — they’re actually not that bad!