Goodbye Garfoose

Despite pitching in only 15 games for the Blue Jays, there exists a special place in the hearts of Torontonians for reliever Dirk Hayhurst.

Baseball fans in this city have always carried a bit of a chip on their shoulders in the pursuit of the respect from our peers south of the border.  It isn’t enough having the most valuable ownership and the fourth largest market in baseball, Toronto’s average household income of more than $70,000 would likely double if all 2.5 million of its citizens received a nickel every time an ignorant American baseball fan suggested the Blue Jays were a small market team.

In addition to the casual dismissal of our relevance by fans of other teams, Blue Jays supporters must also tolerate the domestic onslaught of hockey fans who’ve twisted themselves into believing that enjoying a baseball game instead of cheering on goons attacking one another while sliding around on ice wearing boots with knives attached to them is somehow unpatriotic.

As Hayhurst, himself, says:

Yes, I know that Hockey is the National Pastime of Canada, not baseball. And I will confess there were nights I wished TSN would give the Jays, the nation’s only baseball team for crying out loud, a little more airtime instead of rehashing goals by guys who name I can’t pronounce.

Hayhurst endeared himself to this city during his brief time here simply by treating Toronto baseball fans with respect.  His affinity with social networking and the fact that his book was published while he was on the Jays roster certainly helped push him into the spotlight more than a typical middle reliever, but it was his genuine appreciation of baseball fans in this city, proven through his reaching out to local blogs and his interaction with mainstream media members, that won Toronto over.

Even though the news has been out for a while, it’s with sadness that Toronto fans now have to acknowledge that Hayhurst’s time in Toronto has come to an end.

If you’re a fan of the idea of me being a Toronto Blue Jay, the following wont be easy for either of us: I won’t be coming back to the Toronto Blue Jays organization this coming season.  First, I want you to know it wasn’t my decision. They Jays elected to go a different route and that is well with in their right. Second, I’m not mad at them for their decision, and there is no bad blood. The Jays are a fabulous organization, and I enjoyed my time with them immensely. Now, before you bat that comment aside as the traditional athlete obligatory jargon about how to segway gracefully, make no mistake— I loved being a Blue Jay.

Hayhurst then humbly apologizes just in case his fond farewell to Toronto fans comes across as anything other than genuine.

One last point before I go. I’m not a big name, and I’ll never consider my departure from Toronto on par with some of the truly great players you’ve lost. That’s vanity, not to mention arrogant. Please don’t think I’m doing any of this goodbye stuff because I think I’m great. On the contrary, I’m doing it because I think YOU ARE great. I wanted to thank you for all you’ve given me in my time with the Blue Jays. I’d also like to say that, thanks to these new tools, you don’t have to say goodbye at all. I’ll always be here in my digital incarnation, anxious to hear from you, even if I’m not wearing Blue Jay Blue this next go around.

I know that there have been a dozen or so baseball players from Canada who’ve played for the Toronto Blue Jays, but I doubt that any of them could ever be considered more Canadian than Ohio’s Dirk Hayhurst.  We all wish him the best in his future endeavours.