TP16: Now Batting, Johnny Mac

Whether it was braiding my hair before school, driving to early morning practices on a dewy field at the ballpark, or teaching me how to properly barbecue, my Dad has always been a big part of my childhood and my life. It was due to his love for classic rock, car racing, and lacrosse that I took an interest in those things as I grew older. He has had a key role in the person I have become today. I can only imagine the fear my father endured when at twenty-four, he become a parent to a daughter, his first-born child. My parents worked in tandem as much as possible to give myself and my two younger siblings the best life and everything possible, always putting us first. At this young age, I’m happy I can look back and have vivid memories of my parents throughout my childhood, not to mention the numerous home videos and photo albums (read: pictures of me in cardboard boxes) to look through.

I’m not at the age yet that my friends and the people around me have started having kids but I do know people that have or are planning to in the foreseeable future. Every young father I’ve met worries about new children and the skills and challenges that they will face, especially when the first child is a daughter. Even the men in my life who had sworn they would never have children in earlier years, have made mention of how scary fathering a daughter would be and how their protective instincts would naturally kick-in to gear. That’s what happened to Blue Jays Infielder, John MacDonald, when he became the proud father of a daughter a couple years ago. As a professional athlete, a lot changed when the parenting began but according to him (and the smile on his face) he couldn’t have asked for a better change.

Thirty-five year old McDonald, a native of Connecticut, was drafted to the Majors in 1996 to the Indians. After brief stints in Toronto, Detroit, and a final trade back to Toronto, McDonald has been around for quite some time. He’s witnessed changes around the league and throughout his own career, but it’s his life away from the field that has seen the biggest alterations in recent years.  

“I think first getting married changes your life. You start thinking more about two people than you do about one,” said McDonald, who’s been with his wife for well over ten years. “Then having our daughter; everything isn’t about either of us anymore, everything is all about her. I’m not looking forward to some of the things that come along with having a daughter but I am looking forward to her getting older and learning more and she’s just starting to learn how to talk now.”

Having seen baseball in the Majors since 1996, John McDonald has seen his fair share of
rookies come up and through the system. When asked if there were any skills he acquired through baseball that he can apply, McDonald thought hard before responding that the lessons and skills of parenting and being professional athlete, seem to go hand in hand in his life.

“As my role of someone that’s been here for a while, it’s teaching younger players how to go about playing the game, how to respect the game and how to be prepared. It’s not unlike watching my daughter go from crawling, to walking, to running. You see those same things and you try to help people become better,” said McDonald, of his daughter who will celebrate her second birthday in
July. “I try to help my daughter get better at anything she’s trying to do that day and I want to make sure she does it right. We have guys that continue to come up to the big leagues and you want to make sure that they’re ready and prepared and they’re getting better every day too.”

As spring turns to summer and the days grow longer, Father’s Day approaches and polka-dot ties, golf tees, and coffee mugs start flying off the shelves. This year, think about all the ways you’ve spent time with your Dad and the memories you have together. Be it current or past, those memories and bonds created will linger in thoughts for the rest of your life. The Toronto Blue Jays want to reward those memories and are holding a Father’s Day Contest in which twenty-five lucky Fathers will have the opportunity to win the chance to attend a pre-game BBQ at Rogers Centre hosted by Blue Jays Infielder, John McDonald, on Sunday, June 20th.

John MacDonald, who is often referred to as Toronto’s favourite Blue Jay and now father of a little girl, will judge the contest and pick winners based on the entries. During the 2010 Spring Training McDonald’s Father was diagnosed with cancer. Like many Father and Sons, he had a close relationship with his Father and the news was difficult to handle. In an effort to pay respect to his Father and share the importance of Fatherhood, McDonald wanted to host an event in Toronto for Blue Jays fans: a Father’s Day BBQ presented by the FAN590. According to McDonald, it will be tough to choose winners and the best entries, but what most excites him, are the stories and memories between a child and their father much like those he shares with his Dad.

“When I come to the ballpark I love seeing kids with their dads; People that are excited to be at the ball game and it’s something that they’re doing together. I think it’s important for parents to spend time with their kids; maybe it’s something that a father and son share and continue to share for years,” said McDonald of what he’ll be looking for. “Maybe it’s one game that they go to every year but they do it together and it’s something that they talk about, that can bring them closer together. I think that’s very important in relationships.”

To share with the Blue Jays what makes your Father most deserving of this experience, you can submit a written entry (no longer than 250 words) to or via mail-in entry. Within the entry you must include and describe why your Father is important to you and the importance of Father’s Day. The Grand Prize for twenty-five lucky Father’s includes: two tickets to the John McDonald Father’s Day BBQ, two field level tickets to the game vs. the San Francisco Giants, two passes to attend Blue Jays Batting Practice, and two passes to attend a pre-game BBQ including a Meet & Greet with Toronto Blue Jays infielder John McDonald. Submissions will be accepted until Friday, June 11th, 2010.

Take a moment to think about all the ways your Father has had an impact on your life. Whether it was his motorcycle skills, perfectionist cooking, or the way he taught you how to throw a baseball. It’s those memories that shape the relationship you have with one another and the memories that will hold an everlasting place in your life. Thanks Dad! 

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