On Thursday, the Toronto Blue Jays were honored by Commissioner Bud Selig as the 2012 recipient of the Commissioner’s Award for Philanthropic Excellence. The award was created in 2010 and is presented yearly to a team that demonstrates extraordinary charitable and philanthropic efforts for any given year.
The Blue Jays were chosen as this year’s recipient due to their efforts with the Blue Jays Baseball Academy, in association with the team’s Jays Care program. The academy partners with Boy and Girls Clubs across Canada to offer instructional clinics, host tournaments, and refurbish fields and facilities.
“The Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Academy program embodies the franchise’s significant investment in the young people of Canada,” Commissioner Selig said. “The determination of the Blue Jays to provide thousands of children with the tools to succeed in baseball and in life has made a remarkable difference in not just Toronto but in many other communities as well, and Canadians should take great pride in their country’s Major League Baseball team. I commend the Blue Jays and all of our Clubs for embracing the game’s essential social responsibilities and making a positive impact in their respective communities year after year.”
The program is part of the Blue Jays’ initiative to spread its reach outside of the city of Toronto and make it known that they are Canada’s team. To CEO Paul Beeston, that means being part of the communities in which the team represents.
“We are honoured to receive the Commissioner’s Award for Philanthropic Excellence,” said Paul Beeston, President and CEO, Toronto Blue Jays. “We made an organizational decision several years ago to reach out to communities not just in Toronto but all across the country, as we recognized our responsibilities as Canada’s only Major League team. The support we have received from all provinces has been overwhelming and it was imperative that our programs reflected that passion. The creation of the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Academy, combined with the tremendous efforts of the Jays Care Foundation, has had a significant impact on the youth of the nation. We are very proud of this recognition and it speaks volumes to the efforts of many in our organization and our key partners, including Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, Baseball Canada and Little League Canada. Together we have truly made a positive impact in our communities across Canada.”
In 2012, the program spent $1.9 million dollars on the various efforts under the Jays Care umbrella, including scholarships, instructional camps, and housing assistance. That includes 900,000 alone spent on on the Field Of Dreams arm of the project.
Toronto is the third winner of the award. Boston won in 2010 and the Chicago White Sox won in 2011.