The Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Academy launched its 2012 baseball program with three Blue Jays Honda Instructional Clinics in Ontario this past weekend. The four-hour clinics took place in London, Waterloo, and Guelph, with more than 300 total players participating. The camps focus on the fundamentals of baseball, and for many participants, the clinics act as their first introduction to organized baseball.
"Any time you can partner with the Blue Jays, it helps. It's great that these clinics focus on the younger ages, and they teach the basic fundamentals," said John Busch, vice president of REP baseball for Waterloo Minor Baseball. "The clinic has a nice flow to it, and as you can see, there are a lot of Blue Jays fans here in this region."
In addition to baseball instruction, the clinics also function as a fundraiser for many local Ontario associations. The Blue Jays donate half the registration fees back to the host organization.
"Waterloo has the highest diamond costs in Ontario," said Busch. "We were planning on using the money raised to help provide some budget relief in that area. Baseball registration is up in our local, so it all works hand and hand."
The clinics run four hours and cover basic baseball fundamentals such as hitting, infield and outfield drills, throwing and catching, and each participant receives a Blue Jays hat and T-shirt. Qualified Blue Jays instructors teach players the "Blue Jays way of baseball," a curriculum that Blue Jays manager John Farrell helped design.
"They have really placed an emphasis on amateur baseball the last year, and we really appreciate it. This is such a thrill for all these kids, because many of them are dreaming about being the next Brett Lawrie," said John Lannutti, vice president of Guelph Minor Baseball.
"You can see with all the excitement about the team lately, it has had an effect on our registration numbers," continued Lannutti.
The Blue Jays will run 30 clinics throughout Ontario this summer, including nearly 4,000 children. Clinics will run from May 12-Aug. 1. For registration info, visit Bluejays.com.
Rob Jack is manager of social marketing for the Blue Jays. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.