Blue Jays: Jose Bautista and his presence off the field

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 20: Jose Bautista
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 20: Jose Bautista /

There will always be lovers and haters regarding the game of baseball.  The same can be said for specific athletes; as some fans have their absolute favorite player, one that they cheer, scream for, and support, and there are some who’ll have a vendetta against them for any and all reasons.  A perfect illustration of this is none other than Toronto Blue Jays right fielder, Jose Bautista.

Jose Bautista came to Toronto in 2008 via a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Over the next two seasons, not only did his hitting and average steadily improve, but he also became a fan favorite.  In 2010, he was named to the Major League All Star Game for the first time in his career and finished that season with an astonishing 54 home runs and 124 RBI.  The Jays took notice and rewarded Bautista during that off season with a five year, $64 million US contract extension.

While he was breaking records on the field, off the field he was often seen donating his time.  Attending galas, visiting afflicted and sick children, and playing in as well as hosting golf tournaments, were a few of the ways Bautista was seen giving back.

In Toronto last December (keep in mind he was a free agent & hadn’t yet signed as a Jay for the upcoming 2017 season), Bautista made a point of stopping by Sick Kids Hospital to spend time with young patients.  Two years before that, a week before Christmas, he was seen at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Florida with former Blue Jay Drew Hutchinson.  In 2015, along with David Price, Josh Donaldson and Aaron Sanchez, Bautista participated in the ice bucket challenge for ALS research.

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In 2011, Jose took his philanthropy even further by starting his own foundation, the Bautista Family Education Fund (BFEF) which assists student athletes transitioning to college life by not only paying for many of their expenses, but also through mentorship.  Told to the Hollywood Reporter’s Jason Pham, Bautista explained the purpose behind creating it:

“I got to the point in my career where I felt I needed to pay it back…and was looking for a way to make an impact and not just write a cheque to a foundation and say you’re helping.”

For the past five years, Bautista has hosted his Annual Golf Tournament where athletes, celebrities, fans and media alike all converge to have fun in the sun and raise money for his charity, the BFEF.  Many of the Jays, past and present, have shown up to support this great cause including J.P. Arencibia, Josh Donaldson, Kevin Pillar, Justin Smoak, Russell Martin, and Marcus Stroman among others.

"“I got to the point in my career where I felt I needed to pay it back…and was looking for a way to make an impact and not just write a cheque to a foundation and say you’re helping.”- Jose Bautista"

There are many more examples of what Bautista has done in his spare time and his life off the field, but because baseball is a daily game, because the games are what we follow, see and read, that’s the news and information we get every day.  We don’t hear or see all the positives, all the charitable actions, all the fundraising that he has conducted outside the game.  As fans and critics of baseball, we are extremely quick to point out every strike out, every missed catch and every glare he gives the umpire while he’s at bat.  We forget or in some cases, have no idea, of his contributions he’s made to the city, to the fans and to various charities.

Bautista has had his share of amazing, surreal, and all around enjoyable moments while wearing the Toronto uniform.  If this is indeed his final year as a Blue Jay, let’s not only remember the achievements and accomplishments he had on the field, but also the great work and charitable activities that he conducted off the field as well.

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