Blue Jays fan support reaches fever pitch around the world

While Canada's lone Major League Baseball team has a sizable national fan base, the Toronto Blue Jays have many supporters living well beyond the country's borders cheering on the team (Frank Gunn/CP)

TORONTO — When Toronto Blue Jays slugger Joe Carter drove in the World Series-clinching home run in 1993, Kristian Teleki learned of the dramatic win in the most underwhelming way possible: over the phone.

Teleki was right in the midst of the action when the team captured its first World Series title in 1992. He watched the clinching game at a downtown Toronto bar, joining the masses in the streets to celebrate the historic victory.

But a year later, Teleki was thousands of kilometres and an ocean away from his hometown attending university in the U.K. with no way to watch or listen to the game — so he phoned home for the results.

"I actually felt rather sad that I wasn’t there to be a part of that second bit of history," said Teleki in a phone interview from Cambridge, England.

"But at least in ’92 I had that moment in downtown Toronto when the whole place erupted in the middle of the night. It was amazing."

Teleki, 47, has lived in the U.K. for 22 years — the same stretch of time the Jays had been out of the playoffs before clinching the American League East title last week.

But his support for his childhood team has never waned despite living across the Atlantic, a task made far easier with the ability to stream games online. Still, the five-hour time difference between Toronto and Cambridge poses its challenges.

"If the games are really late and it’s a work day, it’s difficult to stay up till 3 a.m.," said the marine biologist.

"I have a friend of mine in Toronto… (who) actually sends text messages through to me in the middle of the night. If I wake up in the middle of the night I can actually see the score without having to look bleary-eyed at 5:30 in the morning to find out what the outcome is."

While Canada’s lone Major League Baseball team has a sizable national fan base, Teleki is among many Jays supporters living well beyond the country’s borders cheering on the team.

Self-described "huge" hockey fan Martin Andreoli is relatively new to baseball. The Swiss resident lives in Neuenhof, a small town about 15 kilometres outside of Zurich, and first plugged into the game — literally — a couple of years ago.

Out of boredom during the summer of 2013, he purchased the MLB game for Playstation and subscribed to MLB.TV shortly afterwards. His love affair with the North American pastime — and the Jays — was born.

"I’m a huge (Edmonton) Oilers fan so I just had to go with the Canadian team, right?" Andreoli said in an email.

"(Toronto is) a great city, Rogers Centre looks beautiful, the logo is awesome, there are several outstanding players on the team, I just love it! A visit to a game is definitely on my bucket list."

U.K.-based Louis Hatton wasn’t even alive when Toronto won their back-to-back World Series titles. But the 18-year-old journalism student is a big fan of the current squad — particularly outfielder Kevin Pillar — and believes they have the potential to go deep into the playoff race.

"This team has been amazing this year, all year, with the signings in the off-season as well as on the trade deadline as well with (shortstop Troy) Tulowitzki and (pitcher David) Price," Hatton said from Leicester, England.

"The only problem I see is that there are two or three teams in the National League that are very strong," he added. "The Jays have got a very, very, very good chance to get to the World Series — but winning it is going to be very, very close."

Syracuse, N.Y., native Jeff Dennis has two big-league teams in his home state, but opts to support the Jays over the Yankees, Toronto’s division rivals, and the National League East champion Mets.

Dennis said the sole reason he supports the Canadian team is because their triple-A team was based in his hometown when he was growing up.

"I used to watch Carlos Delgado, Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter, Vernon Wells. I saw all of those guys come up and I used to follow them into the big leagues."

Dennis said he has had the chance to see Toronto play live in New York, Cleveland and Boston, and hasn’t missed an inning since the team made their blockbuster trades. He’s hopeful he’ll be able to watch the team live in during the post-season.

"From a fan’s perspective, it’s really cool to follow them on Twitter and social media networks just to see what’s going on behind the scenes," said Dennis.

"Obviously, they’re kicking ass on the field, but it seems like they’re having a great time off the field. It’s really easy to like them. And a lot of my friends that aren’t even baseball fans are jumping on the bandwagon."

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