Chris Boese and his brother Chad raise a glass at the Canadian Brewhouse in Red Deer as they watch the Toronto Blue Jays take on the Texas Rangers  in game one of the American League Division Series last Thursday.

Chris Boese and his brother Chad raise a glass at the Canadian Brewhouse in Red Deer as they watch the Toronto Blue Jays take on the Texas Rangers in game one of the American League Division Series last Thursday.

Central Albertans not immune to Blue Jays fever

It’s been 22 years, but it’s not just Toronto that’s excited to see the Blue Jays back in the post season. Canada’s only baseball team boasts fans coast to coast, and Red Deer is no exception.

It’s been 22 years, but it’s not just Toronto that’s excited to see the Blue Jays back in the post season.

Canada’s only baseball team boasts fans coast to coast, and Red Deer is no exception.

Jersey City in Bower Place Shopping Centre started seeing a trend early on in the season, said Gina Omilon who was worked there for five years.

It all really started when third basemen Josh Donaldson started putting up impressive offensive numbers. His jerseys have tough to keep around and are the most popular item.

“We have been timing from when we get his jerseys in to how quickly we can sell out of them,” said Omilon. “The longest was 24 hours and that was because there was only medium sizes left. Usually it’s within the hour that the jerseys are gone.”

It has gotten to the point where the store is ordering products from American distributors, because the Canadian distributors can’t keep up with demand for Jays gear across the country. It’s all the store can do to get Jays attire in.

“When people realized there was hope they would make the playoffs, people jumped onto the bandwagon then,” said Omilon.

According to the Red Deer Minor Baseball Association’s website, after the Blue Jays last World Series win in 1993 they had an explosion of registrations. Close to 600 players registered in 1994, to compare last season the association had about 400 players in the system.

Registrar Renae Clark said the expect to see a bump in registrations this year, coinciding with the Jays success.

“Last year it was 56 new registrations, but we definitely expect it to increase,” said Clark. “Not only with the Jays, if the Jays are doing very well, we always see increases.

Other factor can contribute to increased registrations, including marketing campaigns and events. Clark said even a report that said baseball was a better off-season sport for hockey instead of lacrosse helped boost their numbers.

Bars around town also got in on the explosion of Jays fandom. Brandon Black, a manager at Canadian Brewhouse in Clearview, said he’s noticed more and more Jays fans coming out for games.

“100 per cent we’ve seen more hats, jerseys for the last three weeks of the season,” said Black. “Now gearing up for the playoffs, you hear people talking about it.

“They’re just excited about playoff baseball.”

Brewhouse opened early on Friday for a ballgame that started at 10:30 a.m. local time. They even made a special hot dog special, named for players, for game days to help bring the atmosphere of the ballpark to the bar.

After losing the first two games of the series at home, the Jays rebounded to force a fifth and deciding game in Toronto on Wednesday.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com