If you’re a Blue Jays fan with a Twitter account, chances are you’ve talked to (or at least seen the tweets of) Victoria, who goes by @biaginger online.
A Torontonian twenty-something with a passion for baseball, her username highlights not only her love and respect for eclectic Blue Jays relief pitcher Joe Biagini, but also her most defining feature, bright red hair that is often curled at her shoulders.
A self-proclaimed “professional baseball spectator”, Victoria can often be seen above the Blue Jays bullpen in left field, taking in games and showing off elaborate signs that mostly feature members of the bullpen.
Her signs, some of which have featured caricatures and cartoon versions of some of her favourite hurlers, have caught the attention of the players themselves.
“Every year there are a few pitchers that I sort of get friendly with,” she told Blue Jays Nation. “But it’s usually a pitcher who seems friendlier who I put on signs.“
Outside of the players themselves, Victoria, along with numerous other individuals who live-tweet games and chime in when big trades go down, have formed real-world friendships with those that frequent Rogers Centre’s (mostly) blue seats.
Today's @BlueJays game sign:
Went with the obvious Elvis Presley Elvis Luciano sign pic.twitter.com/TSYHw7hgLA
— Victoria 🥕 (@biaginger) June 7, 2019
“I’ve been recognized at work multiple times,” Victoria laughed. “There have been some…interesting reactions. I think it’s also easier for me just because I have red hair!”
Though Victoria is a unique and lovely character who graces the Blue Jays fandom with enthusiasm and comradery, she’s not the only fan who’s gained an online following.
Lesley Mak, previously known in the online fandom as “Sleeve” (an ode to the compression sleeves frequently worn by former Blue Jay Steve Pearce), is also one of the team’s most devout supporters. Colloquially referred to as “The Flight Deck Lady”, Mak, 39, is a higher education professional by day and a cat-lover and Blue Jays enthusiast by night.
A bubbly personality with constantly changing punny display names, Mak (@Lesley_NOPE) says that the Blue Jays Twitter community, like many other online fandoms, is welcoming and friendly, just as long as you’re not offensive, confrontational, or rude to anyone.
“We talk about real life, not just about the Blue Jays,” Mak said of the friendships she’s forged through the Twitter community. “Tons of people I’ve met on Twitter are now IRL (in real life) friends.“
Funnily enough, she only started using Twitter to pass the time while recovering from a serious concussion during the 2015 season. While on sick leave in June 2015, Mak needed to find something to occupy her time, given her physical condition.
Not only did she grow up watching baseball (and has been a passionate softball player for years), but the sport is inherently slower than others, and doesn’t require copious amounts of focus or quick thinking, unlike the lightning-fast paces of hockey and basketball.
“I would wait until the games started; that would be the highlight of my day,” she remembers. “I was also curious if there was something happening in the game, I would say ‘I bet you Twitter knows!’”
On top of Lesley and Victoria, endless other fans, including the youthfully kind SuperFan Dan (@Danbot26R), the observant, pun-loving Jordan Davidson (@jordangeville), and the sarcastic and witty Minor Leaguer (@Minor_Leaguer), make up one special fandom.
“We watch out for one another, online and in real life. Most of the closer members know that they can reach out if they need something, and I’m well aware that I can do the same,“ says Shawn W. Smith (@s_win_smith), a Hamilton native who has been part of the community since 2016. “The social aspect has become vital to my enjoyment of the game. Logging onto Twitter has become as important as watching the game itself“.
What I am muttering after Kingham gave up that walkoff pic.twitter.com/cjVwwgBTa1
— Minor Leaguer (@Minor_Leaguer) June 26, 2019
It’s fans like this that have made Twitter an inviting online community for baseball enthusiasts to join. Whether sharing comedic GIFs of in-game moments or satirizing the opposing team’s broadcast crew, scrolling through Twitter has become part of the experience.
Panels and meetups, such as the “#BlueJaysTwitter” panel in Toronto this past January, have also sprung up, reinforcing the value and closeness of the group. It’s not uncommon for users, whether sports media professionals or fans, to become engulfed in the team’s social media landscape.
“There are times when I’ve had to put my phone under my mattress to stop looking at my feed,” Jenn Smith (@Baseball_Jenn), who covers the team for Sporting News, remarked at the panel.
Still, the obsession with refreshing one’s Twitter feed is both harmless and wholesome, especially considering the state of the Blue Jays of 2019.
This year’s Blue Jays team has been disappointing for the majority of the team’s fans. With a lacklustre starting rotation and bleak offensive production that leaves much to be desired, interest in this baseball team has been as low as its been since 2012.
Regardless of how bad (or good) the Blue Jays are, there remains one constant: an engaged, knowledgeable group of Twitter-dwelling fans who’ll stick by the team and their fellow fans to the end.
It’s truly a great thing to be a fan, especially when one can be surrounded by individuals who share the same passion, emotion, and attention to detail. For members of the Blue Jays Twitter community, fandom has reached a new level, with every member banded together, physically or virtually, under the dome.
“You don’t need to know a lot about the game,” Shawn remarked. “Come with a good attitude and you’ll be welcomed with open arms.”