The Fox’s Tail is a blog featuring the perspective from a girl working with a Junior A team in Toronto.
Growing up in Toronto, everything here was always Leafs, Leafs, Leafs, and when I started watching hockey as a very young teenager, it was a no-brainer (and expected by my father!) to follow the Leafs. We got the Toronto Star at home on Saturdays, which would detail pre-game information, then every Hockey Night in Canada was a Leafs match, followed by Sunday mornings when I would read the Toronto Sun’s account of the night before. When I first started watching hockey, we had no Internet access at home or at school, so traditional media were all I had. The ease of accessing information regarding the Leafs, combined with geographic pride and my Leaf-fan family, it didn’t occur to me to cheer for anyone else.
And so, on Thursday afternoon, when Mr. Fox and I attended the first-ever Doug Gilmour “DougieBall” charity softball tournament at Christie Pits in
Toronto, it was a cheerful blast from the past for me, as I delighted in seeing players I had come to love as I learned about the game. From Matt Stajan to Steve Thomas, Tie Domi to Eric Lindros, it was really awesome to see guys that had a lot to do with my love and passion for hockey.
The event itself was great. It was put on to raise funds for the MLSE Team Up foundation, which raises cash for under-privileged kids. Admission was free, the snack bar was manned by MLSE’s concept sports bar, Real Sports, and spectators could purchase T-shirts and hats to get autographed by players.
When we arrived, I suggested standing along the fence by first base. When I lived out west, I shot a lot of ball games, and that has become my preferred ballfield vantage point to shoot photos. We set up shop at the fence along the baseline, and I grabbed my zoom lens to help capture better shots at the plate. At that point, the rest of the players had not arrived yet, though we had seen Killer mingling with the media when we first got to the park.
Once the players arrived via coach bus, they made their way to the field and they announced over the PA that the guys would be signing autographs prior to the game starting. Team Gilmour, dressed in white, would do autographs first while Team Lindros, dressed in blue, would warm up. Turns out, the autographs would be done along the fence line where we were standing. Personally, I’m not too worried about autographs — one of the only players I’ve ever gotten an autograph from was Phil Esposito … he signed my Rent-a-Goalie Season One DVD box, since it was a unique item and I thought he’d get a kick out of it. (He did. We were in Winnipeg at the time, he asked me where I got the DVDs and I replied, “Best Buy … in Red Deer.” His reply? “Red Deer? Shit, girl, you get around! Not like that … well, maybe like that!” Ha.)
While I’m not a hound for autographs, (maybe because I worked as a reporter for so many years and could never get anybody’s?) I definitely do love a good photo. So, everyone walked right by us, and I got lots of great photos of the players as they passed. We let a little kid in beside us to hold up his T-shirt to get signed by the players. As Gilmour’s team was passing along, Lindros and Tucker were standing nearby to us warming up. Lindros casually tossed a bright yellow softball at Tucker, who proceeded to knock it right out of the park. Over the fence. And hit one of two people sitting in lawn chairs watching the warm-up. The man who got hit was so startled he toppled right out of his chair. Everyone where we were standing on the opposite side of the park laughed. (He was okay.) Some of the guys went over to check and make sure the man was alright, and gave him the ball to keep as a souvenir. Tucker took a few jabs for that one.
Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo had quite a swing and hit a couple of fly balls, Domi didn’t get too many hits and Paul “BizNasty” Bissonette made it back to home plate in style — wearing bright red shoes. Shayne Corson made a diving play to third (and nobody gave him two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct) while David Clarkson made a couple great catches.
The weather, while it looked like it might rain, was great. The atmosphere was a lot of fun and I hope they do this again next year. It was an awesome event and I hope they were able to raise a few bucks for charity. If I’m still living in Toronto next year, even though I’m not a Leafs fan anymore, I would definitely go back!
Question, comment, chirp? Get at me … Twitter @hockey_foxx or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org ..