Niagara Gazette

July 8, 2013

Base Paths: A field trip to the big leagues

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Base Paths choked down his distaste for “The Show” Saturday, helping grandson Clark, 10, to his major-league debut. Fourteen hours later, they decided that even as mediocre a team as the Blue Jays deserves a better city than Toronto.

We crossed the Rainbow Bridge, our agent wondering at Clark’s governmental pedigree – residence, Summerhill; address, Locke; phone number, Sempronius; school, Groton. Actually, they’re all one crossroads location. “Perfect,” said she.

Declining the limited options of GO-train from Niagara Falls, we drove to Appleby, around the corner from Hamilton, on an every-half-hour schedule. We bought tickets, $18 round trip for two, but nobody collected them. We learned later it’s an honor system, rarely checked. Three hours before game time, it was a rolling nest of Blue Jay fans of every feather.

Toronto Union personnel directed us to the “skywalk,” a plywood maze of construction sites and pipe dreams. Twice we had to reverse field through a “pedestrian detour.” Even for a kid who gets on base a lot, it was a long hike.

Outside the Rogers Center, a scrumptious hot dog cost a mere $4 with all trimmings (post-game, $3) and then we were in, roof open, a new experience for Base Paths who has seen two games indoors.

The CN Tower loomed like a gigantic croquet stake. Pizza, popcorn and two drinks cost $20 and an usher rushed in to help ferry it to our seats, flatly refusing tip. With R. A. Dickey hurling, prospects for history seemed high.

Those crashed with a first-pitch single and the Twins sautéed the Jays 6-0. Still, the game had its wonders. Jay Jose Reyes was picked off so thoroughly that he almost fell to the ground laughing. Each center fielder doubled a runner off first. Twin center fielder Aaron Hicks made three spectacular catches, none to be mentioned in later accounts.

Post game, we walked to the Spadina trolley line, anticipating a ride to the ferry landing. Construction blocked the rails. A tortuous bus ride took us within “walking distance” of the boat but when we asked for on-ground directions, we were actually laughed at, feeling like Reyes. Later, trudging four blocks back to Union Station, we found not one viable restaurant, instead settling for Tim Horton’s (Clark was thrilled, especially by the “Blue Jays” donut. Don’t ask.)

Homeward bound we fell in with a Hamilton dad piloting three sons, 8, 9 and 11. Base Paths asked if he’d like to fill his straight with Clark. They all got to playing some hand-slap game while the elders pondered the mindset of gorgeous young thing 22 or so who rode 35 minutes without one hint of any personal happiness.

US Customs asked more questions about the car than about us and then we were home. Base Paths said he’d return to Toronto when they finish building it. Clark said he can’t wait that long.

Doug Smith offers his baseball wit and wisdom every Monday with Base Paths. You can email him at

Doug Smith offers his baseball wit and wisdom every Monday with Base Paths. You can email him at