Blue Jays spend off-day golfing for charity

Blue Jays spend off-day golfing for charity

Blue Jays spend off-day golfing for charity
TORONTO -- Players, coaches and alumni of the Blue Jays along with special guests were at The Club at Bond Head in Bond Head, Ont., on Monday for the 17th Annual Charity Golf Classic, one of the organization's largest and most important fundraising events.

The event, presented by Rogers, Cisco and Ericsson, in support of the Jays Care Foundation, saw 80 teams of four join up for 18 holes, followed by a cocktail reception and dinner. Those in attendance, including event sponsors, placed bids on a large range of prizes and memorabilia, and an exclusive raffle was held throughout the day.

"All the players are out here along with corporate forces and benefactors that are supporting Jays Care to have a day on the links and play a little bit of golf," said executive director of the Jays Care Foundation, Danielle Bedasse. "In baseball, off-days are precious commodities, so for the team to commit another off-day to Jays Care and be able to come out and support us in this way and help us in funds for all our programs is great. All the things they do during the year for kids is tremendous."

Last year, the event raised over $1.4 million for various programs, including the Blue Jays Rookie League program and programs serving children in areas of education, physical activity and life-skill development. The annual event has helped raise money to build 35 safe youth spaces, ranging from baseball fields to recreation centers.

"We have a lot of different avenues, but this funds a lot of what we do for the year," Bedasse said.

The golf classic has grown substantially since it first started, a credit to not only the players, but also the Jays Care Foundation, which puts in tireless work to make all of this possible.

"I think it's an opportunity to give back," said president and CEO of the Blue Jays, Paul Beeston. "We are very fortunate to have a very solid foundation that has good people that work there. Players are out here, it's a fun time to communicate with our fans, but more importantly for us to raise some money to give back to the community.

"The Blue Jays players are very good with their time and giving back, and that's what this is all about."

It's a good way for the players to relax and spend their off-day together before heading to Chicago for a three-game stand with the White Sox. Not surprisingly, most of the Blue Jays enjoy golf and are good at the sport. But that doesn't go for everyone.

"I'm a good golfer ... for my third time being on the course," Rajai Davis said. "It's fun once I wake up. It's an early bird but something special we got going on. We're up for it -- up for the challenge. I don't know how many straight ones I'm going to hit, but I'm going to try."

Blue Jays catcher Jeff Mathis said the team spent a lot of its free time during Spring Training golfing together in Florida, and he was able to size up some of the talent on the roster. Mathis is impressed with Darren Oliver, saying he has "some sneaky-good game" and has heard Casey Janssen is good, admitting he had yet to see him play, while declaring Sergio Santos and Brett Lawrie as two guys who can "hit it far."

Davis, however, wasn't buying into Lawrie's skill on the links.

"I haven't seen many balls go very far," Davis joked about Lawrie. "I heard him talking, but I haven't seen it. Seeing is one thing, hearing is another."

It was a fun day for those involved and, most importantly, was a cause the players take seriously.

"I like to golf, I enjoy it, not very good at it, but it's nice to be out here and be with the boys," Mathis said. "I feel like the Blue Jays and this organization does a really good job of supporting and helping the kids out. It's nice to be able to do stuff like this and for everybody to be a part of it. Everybody is on board, everybody knows what this is about and knows about the Jays Care Foundation. We are just happy to come out here and support it."

Joking aside, Davis expressed his desire to give back to the people that show their appreciation for him and the team. Attending these types of charity events is something he welcomes and is one of the ways the players are able to say thank you to the fans.

"Being in this position ... we are in a position to give back, and that's what we are doing," Davis said. "This is part of the Jays Care program that helps neighborhoods and communities that support us and come out to the games. I think that this is only right that we do."

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.