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Toronto Blue Jays alumni teaching the next generation at camp in Charlottetown


CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Drew Zettler got a chance to shag fly balls, scoop up grounders and try his hand at pitching Thursday.

He did it all under the watchful eyes of a trio of Toronto Blue Jays alumni.

Drew Zettler, left, listens to Toronto Blue Jays alumnus Frank Catalanotto on how to field a ground ball Thursday in Stratford.
Drew Zettler, left, listens to Toronto Blue Jays alumnus Frank Catalanotto on how to field a ground ball Thursday in Stratford.

“It’s pretty cool being around all the pros,” he said. “I didn't particularly know a lot of them, but when my dad said, ‘Yeah, you’re going,’ he got so excited.”

The Kentville, N.S., native plays for the Wildcats mosquito AA team in his hometown. He was one of about 30 wide-eyed youngsters, aged nine to 16, taking part in the Honda Super Camps, which is run by the Blue Jays Baseball Academy.

“It’s very exciting,” said Zettler, who is visiting the province on vacation. “I’ve always wanted to be a baseball player.”

Nine-year-old Rylan Squires is a catcher with the mosquito A team in his hometown of Morell. He was excited when he found out he would be taking part in the two-day camp, and it ramped up when Thursday arrived.

“It’s great,” he said during a morning break.

The day’s activities were supposed to take place at Memorial Field, but rain resulted in it being moved to the Norton Diamond Soccer Complex in Stratford.

Frank Catalanotto, Lloyd Moseby and Tanyon Sturtze were the Jays alumni taking part. They ran the youngsters through a variety of drills. Moseby, known for his charismatic way during his career, joked and had the kids smiling with his sense of humour.

“The reason we do this is because somebody helped us,” Moseby said before the session got started. “We just want them to understand we’re on their team.”

RELATED: Click here for more from Moseby.

Morell’s Rylan Squires participated in the Honda Super Camp run by the Blue Jays Baseball Academy.
Morell’s Rylan Squires participated in the Honda Super Camp run by the Blue Jays Baseball Academy.

Baseball P.E.I. executive director Randy Byrne said the clinics come at a good time for the youngsters.

“They’re pretty focused on their league and team play, but it gives an opportunity . . . to learn from (the Jays),” he said. “It just adds a little bit of excitement before people really get in the stretch run for provincials.”

And while the message isn’t much different than what the youngsters would hear from their own coaches, coming from the Jays alumni reinforces the point.

“They just hear it from somebody else,” Byrne said. “It reaffirms it for the kids.”

Moseby, who’s been involved in the camps for eight years, knows it would have made a difference when he was the players’ age.

“I would have loved to have Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Joe Rudi, oh my goodness, just come to our school or come to our practice. I would have probably fainted,” he said. “What they are saying has to be gospel.”

The Jays have been making Prince Edward Island part of their cross-Canada tour for years.

“It’s huge,” Byrne said. “It demonstrates to us that the Blue Jays are committed to baseball across the country and not just in Ontario, Quebec and the larger centres.”

The Island has produced some great ball players in recent years, most recently with J.P. Stevenson and Cole MacLaren both playing NCAA Division 1 in the United States this year. Islanders are also playing junior college south of the border and at academies in Western Canada.

“For a province our size, it’s amazing, really,” Byrne said.

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