Toronto Blue Jays: Have we seen the last of the home run jacket?
According to Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun, the Toronto Blue Jays may be retiring their home run jacket in 2023. “It’s up to the players,” manager John Schneider said when asked about the status on Sunday. “I think that anything that the players want to do is going to be cool. We’ve had the jacket for a couple of years.”
He added, “I think the overall message, whether it’s putting a jacket on or doing something in the dugout, we want to celebrate more than just home runs. We want to focus on catching the ball. We want to focus on getting on base. Things like that. It’s totally up to the players.”
“We want to celebrate more than just home runs”
The size 48 long, deep blue jacket, created by team staff member Hector LeBron in July 2021, has been a fixture of the Blue Jays home run celebrations in the dugout over the last two seasons. There have been different editions, including a 2022 jacket that included Ukraine, and a special 2022 Postseason jacket that only lasted two games.
Emblazoned across the back with “La Gente del Barrio" – which roughly means “the people from the ‘hood” – the jacket has served as both a celebration of Blue Jays home runs but also a reminder of who they are. As Gabe Lacques of USA Today wrote, “these Blue Jays are a multi-cultural melting pot of players represented by patches on the jacket, playing on behalf of an entire country while participating in the self-proclaimed national pastime of another.”
According to Lacques, “the Blue Jays were in Fenway Park when [Hector] Lebron glanced at the scoreboard that listed Toronto atop the major league lead for home runs. He mused that the Red Sox celebrate their home runs with a ride in a laundry cart, the Phillies by donning a straw hat, the Padres with their derivative swag chain.
Again, as per Lacques, “[Hector] Lebron does not golf, but he does know the green jacket, slipped over the shoulders of the Masters winner each April. The team already wore T-shirts with "La Gente del Barrio" on them; Lebron enlisted a former teammate-turned-tailor in Texas to apply that message along with the names of 15 Jays-related countries to the back. He received the blessing of Springer, who then presented the jacket to a wide-eyed clubhouse.”
Toronto won 10 of its first 12 games after the jacket’s July 29, 2021 debut, a span that also included the team’s post-COVID return to Rogers Centre.
What do you think Blue Jays fans? Perhaps it can be enshrined in the Canadian baseball Hall of Fame as a symbol of the team’s resilience in the face of having three “home” stadiums in 2021, including Dunedin’s TD Ballpark, Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, and Toronto’s Rogers Centre?