There’s only so many words one can write about the endless drills and pitchers fielding practice (PFPs), bunting practice when you see it every day. So I’ve decided to share some pictures from today, the pictures say more than words:
I’m crushed. Roy Halladay has always been a favorite of mine. Quiet, but always seemingly approachable. Once he was retired he lived in the Clearwater area and it wasn’t unheard of someone saying they’d seen him around town.
Last time I saw him in person was at the end of the season this year. He and his wife were at a Threshers game and I so wanted to say hi, then I saw he was hanging out with his friends and I respected his privacy so I didn’t.
I wish I had told him how much I enjoyed watching him pitch and how I appreciated what he does for the community. You see, last summer, he donated a bunch of memorabilia to the local police who have a charity softball game and auction every year. I was lucky enough to win Doc’s game used and autographed glove as well as a plaque commemorating his perfect game that was also signed.
Until I won the glove I had a “no memorabilia in the living room” rule, which promptly went out the window. I didn’t even get home from the game before I had gone out to Amazon and bought a glass case for the glove. It sits proudly on my piano with a ball he signed for me in Spring Training along will balls signed by Carlos Ruiz, Jim Bunning, Don Larson and Yogi Berra.
While I was working on this the family released a notice to public that included:
A celebration of Halladay’s life will be held Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. The service is open to the public.
My prayers go out to the family and friends of a kind, hardworking guy who was taken much too soon.
Four long years. Tonight was the culmination of four years work to create a a deal that was fair and affordable that would keep the Toronto Blue Jays Spring training home here in Dunedin.
Dunedin isn’t a big city. There’s only 35,000 people in town. We don’t have high rise hotels on the beach or a shopping mall. Our beach is a state park, our “mall” is a string of mom and pop shops on a quaint Main Street. The Jays are a big part of what brings tourists into our little hamlet just north of Clearwater.
We are the only spring training home the Jays have ever had. 40 Years. Canadian fans have bought property to come here year after year to see “Canada’s Team”.
How could such a small town provide world class year round facilities?
It took 4 years of negotiations but we have a deal. Both sides gave a little, both sides walk away winners.
The city will contribute $5.6 million, the State of Florida $13.7, Pinellas County’s “Bed head tax” (a tax on hotel rooms that the revenues generated can be used ONLY for tourism projects) $46 million with the team the remaining $20 million.
We could get into the economics of the tourism that spring training brings in (more than $90 million county-wide) or how just the announcers saying “Dunedin” during spring training broadcasts is worth $5 million alone…
But having the Jays here is more than that.
It’s how most kids see their first MLB baseball game right in town, it’s how the Jays have charity bowling games in summer, or how they let the local high school baseball team play on their major league caliber fields or how the Jays help the little league have first class fields to play on.
It’s what has been termed a “40 year marriage” and tonight we renewed those vows for at least another 25 years.
It was personal for me. I found my house because I came here to go to a Phillies and Jays game and we got lost. We walked through downtown Dunedin and on to the stadium…on the way we fell in love. We’ve been here a little over five years. I’ve been on the Stadium Committee over four years having been appointed by the former mayor.
It’s been a long road. Tonight was the beginning of the end of that long road. We still have a few more steps to go, but the highest hurdle has been jumped and I am relieved.