Blue Jays encourage kids during school visit

Goins, Travis part of crew to put on mini baseball clinic for Grade 7 students

Blue Jays encourage kids during school visit

The excitement could be felt across the playground at Danforth Gardens Public School after word spread that the Blue Jays would be paying a visit to the Scarborough school. Students hung a "Welcome Blue Jays" banner on the baseball diamond backstop in anticipation of the arrival of a few players who would give a lesson in baseball on a beautiful spring afternoon.

Greg Pipher's Grade 7 class was treated to a mini baseball clinic taught by Blue Jays infielders Ryan Goins and Devon Travis, along with first-base coach Tim Leiper and mascot ACE. Along with instruction from Major Leaguers, the students were also given Blue Jays caps and Alomar Baseball gloves as a keepsake.

The message of the day would be to stay active and have fun.

"It's been a long winter for these kids," said Goins. "It's great to be outside with them and having fun. Staying active is so important. The sun is out and there's no reason to stay inside. Enjoy life and enjoy being young."

The members of the Blue Jays would teach the students fundamentals in fielding and hitting, something that a majority of the seventh-graders had not been exposed to.

"This is an amazing opportunity for these kids," said Pipher. "There's not a lot of baseball in this community and I'm hoping to introduce the game of baseball to these students."

Pipher is very passionate about growing the game in the Danforth Gardens community, and he will be bringing a group of 300 people to a Blue Jays game in June.

April's American League Rookie of the Month Travis, along with ACE, worked on fielding technique with the students by throwing them ground balls, while Leiper and Goins gave hitting instruction by using batting tees and Wiffle balls.

"This is an opportunity to put a smile on the kids' faces and a chance to make someone's day," said Travis, who is becoming a fan favourite in Toronto. "It's pretty awesome to hear kids yelling your name and having the whole country behind this team."

Goins shared Travis' enthusiasm.

"Growing up in Texas, we never received an opportunity like this. It's great see the smiles on their faces," he said.

After the instruction was complete, students were given an opportunity to ask the players a few questions. To the surprise of many, they found out that Travis is the current home run leader on the team this season.

"I know he's little, but he has a lot of power," Goins said.

The two infielders would also explain to students that they both started playing baseball at the age of 4, and they would further go on to tell them how they became Toronto Blue Jays via trades. It was also brought to the class' attention that the Blue Jays would be donating to the school the bats, baseballs, tees, helmets and bases used in the afternoon clinic.

Once the Q&A session was over, the class had a group picture and said goodbye with handshakes and high fives. Travis gave the students one last message: "When you come to a game, don't be shy. Wave to me, and I'll come over and say hello."

This is an offer these students will be sure to take advantage of.

Jon Cram is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.