Jays are T.O.'s team of hope

A Blue Jays fan cheers before prior to the start of their game against the Red Sox at the Rogers...

A Blue Jays fan cheers before prior to the start of their game against the Red Sox at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., April 9, 2012. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

JOE WARMINGTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:22 AM ET

TORONTO - Stephanie Hagerman was five when the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series the first time — and six when they took it the second.

Same with her pals — Janna Paterson and Erica Rochester — eight rows up from the dugout.

The fourth of their crew, Bailey Osipenko — wearing Blue Jays paraphernalia — was just three and then four.

“But I remember,” Bailey says with a laugh. “Sort of.”

Yes, 1992 and ’93 was a long time ago for a lot of Jays fans, no matter their age.

It’s time for some new memories and some new things to cheer about.

The 2012 Jays are doing that.

What an exciting bunch.

And young fans like Stephanie, Janna, Erica and Bailey are excited.

At the soldout opening night at Rogers Centre on Monday a lot of fans were as well — 48,473 of them.

The electricity in the air was fun to be part of again.

The young fans’ cheers are infectious to the players for sure.

But the more senior fans, like Philip Good, who has been to every home opener since the very first one in 1977, are pretty stoked too.

“I would never miss an opening game,” said the 85-year-old who is crossing his fingers for 2012. “This team reminds me of the kind of spirit they had back there in the early 1990s.”

It was a fun night Monday — right from army reservist Lieut. Scotty Newland’s tremendous renditions of the national anthems and Dr. Ron Taylor — who has the distinction of owning four World Series rings — throwing out the first pitch to start the terrific game between the Jays and visiting Boston Red Sox.

Longtime fan, part-time scout and Canadian acting legend Sean McCann said there definitely is a different feeling this year.

“There is a new buzz about this team,” he said. “They are talented but it’s more than that. They are likable.”

Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus, Adam Lind, J.P. Arencibia and, of course, Canada’s own Brett Lawrie just to name a few.

There are baseball stars in town again.

How you tell that there are stars in town is by the number of people who are wearing their jerseys, cheer their names and come to the games.

The fans at the Air Canada Centre a few weeks back chanting “Lets Go, Blue Jays” were not kidding around.

The fans of Toronto are starved for a winner and are certainly deserving of one.

The Jays are not only Toronto’s team of choice right now but also their team of hope.

So are the playoffs a real possibility?

With the new format and an extra wild-card entry, a lot of fans don’t see why not.

“You know, with this young club, anything is possible,” said Cliff Trueman. “It sure would be great to see it.”

McCann is also crossing his fingers.

“If they continue to get off to a great start and sustain it until June, I think it will give them the confidence to compete the whole year.

It’s a long season, but I like this club a lot.”

It’s hard to not like them.

Their manager, John Farrell, is level-headed and articulate, their GM, Alex Anthopolous, and his scouts seem to have a keen eye, not just for talent but quality people.

And president Paul Beeston is the guy who knows more than anybody else how to put together a world champion.

And then there are the long-suffering fans.

If you give them something to cheer about and believe in, they will do both.

“It’s just fantastic to have baseball season back,” said Josh Duggan.

“I am very hopeful for this year,” added pal Tim Hurley.

Of course, people of their age really don’t remember the ins and outs of the great win in Atlanta in 1992, with Dave Winfield’s double in extra innings — or the 1993 walk-off home run classic Joe Carter made history with to defeat the Phillies.

But who knows, maybe after 2012, today’s new fans, and the ones who have been around for a while, will have new Blue Jay heroes to worship and new great moments to savour.


Videos

Photos