It started with what most people would dismiss as trivial — an at bat. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s baseball-speak for a player’s turn to face a pitcher. This wasn’t just any at bat. It turned out to be the final at bat in a 16-inning ball game. Blue Jay catcher J.P. Arencibia hit the game-winning home run, ending the longest season-opening game in the history of the sport.
I watched the entire game with my uncle, Ken Ain, in his hospice room. We hadn’t watched a ball game together in probably more than 15 years. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this past November, I didn’t think we were going to get to watch this particular game.
A series of events following Arencibia’s home run connected me with some Blue Jays’ staff responsible for something called guest experience. Yesterday, they had us on the field for batting practice and took us on a behind-the scenes tour of the stadium before the game — an extra-special touch for my aunt, two daughters and me. It was an opportunity for us to reconnect with my uncle who died on April 26. It took me back when my uncle took me to Exhibition Stadium; the days of Ernie Whitt and Mookie Wilson.
While this post may sound a bit self-indulgent, it’s more about the personal touch the Blue Jays apply to fan relations. They took care of us. They made us feel like their guests. From my vantage point it didn’t take much effort or time. Carmen, Matt and Maureen seem to enjoy their job of being hosts. They speak with their guests, rather than to them. And, they helped facilitate our purchase of an announcement on the Jumbotron – the funds of which went to the Blue Jays Foundation which does great work for children.
So let me ask you… are you experienced?