Canada Games history maker Jaida Lee throws first pitch at Blue Jays home game
The 16-year-old has her eye set on college baseball next
After making history at the Canada Summer Games, 16-year-old Jaida Lee said throwing the first pitch at the Toronto Blue Jays home game will be the highlight she's taking forward.
Lee threw the ceremonial first pitch Saturday to start the Jays game against the Cleveland Guardians. Centre-fielder Bradley Zimmer caught the pitch behind home plate. The Blue Jays ended up winning two to one against the Guardians.
Lee told Sportsnet's Blue Jays Central this is a highlight in her hopefully long pitching career.
"Hopefully I'll keep playing. I'd like to play my entire life, honestly, but I'd like to play college baseball going forward," said Lee.
She said of all the experiences this week, pitching the first pitch at the Jays' home game will be an enduring memory. Lee said her interest in baseball started by watching her two older brothers play while her father coached them.
"I kind of grew up at the field and then I made all my friends there. So I just like the atmosphere in general," she said.
Politicians have taken notice of the teenager's talent. The federal minister of sport, Pascale St-Onge, said Lee is another example of how Canadian women and girls are making change through sport.
"Whether it's Canada Games or the Olympics, we've seen our Canadian women thrive on the international stage and at every level in sport," St-Onge said. "So I'm really proud of this."
Lee made history this month when she became the first female to pitch in men's baseball at the Canada Summer Games.
Steve Crocker, Newfoundland and Labrador's minister of tourism, culture, arts and recreation, said Lee's abilities to play on the provincial team are impressive.
"She sets a great example not only for young girls, but for athletes around the country and around the world," Crocker said.
Her father, Dave Lee, said she relishes both the attention and the opportunity to connect with younger players.
Lee said she's been hearing a similar sentiment from young girls and parents who have been stopping by to take photographs with her or messaging her privately.
"Most of them were just congratulating me and telling me that like I was a role model or something like that and saying 'good job' and one of them bought me candy and a few had signs and stuff. So it was really cute and pretty cool to see that," Lee said.
With files from On The Go and The St. John's Morning Show