Blue Jays star emphasizes importance of family and education at New Balance store opening

It’s arguably one of the most iconic moments in Toronto Blue Jays history. Right fielder José Bautista hits a three-run home run during Game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series (ADLS), immortalizing the moment with a badass bat flip. Since then, the move has been recreated as a Topps Company baseball card, a Jays fanatic’s thigh tattoo and now on an exclusive sneaker manufactured by shoe company New Balance.

A silent auction, held during the launch of New Balance’s first downtown location inside Toronto’s Exchange Tower to raise money for the Bautista Family Education Fund (BFEF), marks the unveiling of the commemorative sneaker. Guests bid on baseball memorabilia signed by Bautista himself and earn major bragging points for being able to see the Blue Jay, who is in attendance, up close and personal.

One of the themes Bautista emphasizes during his live Q&A with TSN sports reporter Natasha Staniszewski, is family values, a characteristic that New Balance Canada’s general manager, Gerald Woodman, says the slugger and the brand have in common.

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“We’re family owned so it’s really about values, purpose and beliefs and [Bautista] really is instilled with family values and that really reflects what our business is all about.”

“We’re family owned so it’s really about values, purpose and beliefs and he really is instilled with family values and that really reflects what our business is all about,” says Woodman.

With the baseball season already underway, Blue Jays fans have their ball caps straightened and their jerseys pressed and buttoned as they eagerly anticipate another unforgettable season from the Canadian team.


New Balance’s 574 sneakers commemorating Toronto Blue Jays’ right fielder José Bautista’s epic bat flip during Game 5 of the 2015 ADLS. The shoe was given to the new store’s first 300 customers as a gift with purchase and comes in both blue and purple. // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

New Balance’s 574 sneakers commemorating Toronto Blue Jays’ right fielder José Bautista’s epic bat flip during Game 5 of the 2015 ADLS. The shoe was given to the new store’s first 300 customers as a gift with purchase and comes in both blue and purple. // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

José Bautista being interviewed by TSN sports reporter Natasha Staniszewski. “[New Balance] makes the best shoes that are structurally made to take care of your feet,” Bautista says. “This is why I’m with New Balance and I’ve been with them — except for that one-year period where I took a break — eight years now and it’s been a great ride. It’s a great company, it’s family-owned and they have great values and that’s the kind of company I like to align myself with.” // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

José Bautista being interviewed by TSN sports reporter Natasha Staniszewski. “[New Balance] makes the best shoes that are structurally made to take care of your feet,” Bautista says. “This is why I’m with New Balance and I’ve been with them — except for that one-year period where I took a break — eight years now and it’s been a great ride. It’s a great company, it’s family-owned and they have great values and that’s the kind of company I like to align myself with.” // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

“New Balance makes good shoes and it’s about time we made a break in the athletic industry, especially outside of running,” says store manager Rilla Fernandez. “José being in the Blue Jays, [which is] kind of a dynasty, he’s the perfect guy to make this representation. He’s thriving with the Jays right now so who better to represent us than him?” // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

“New Balance makes good shoes and it’s about time we made a break in the athletic industry, especially outside of running,” says store manager Rilla Fernandez. “José being in the Blue Jays, [which is] kind of a dynasty, he’s the perfect guy to make this representation. He’s thriving with the Jays right now so who better to represent us than him?” // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

Toronto Blue Jays merchandise signed by José Bautista up for auction. Proceeds are donated to the Bautista Family Education Fund, which aims to help aspiring young athletes from low-income families get an education while practising sports. // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

Toronto Blue Jays merchandise signed by José Bautista up for auction. Proceeds are donated to the Bautista Family Education Fund, which aims to help aspiring young athletes from low-income families get an education while practising sports. // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

“I’ve been a diehard [Bautista] fan since I was in Grade 9; that was four years ago and my mom [Sarah] recently became a fan. I’ve always been a Jays fan,” says Morgan. “Those years where they weren’t doing well was great because we could actually get seats. [Seeing José Bautista today] was really cool; I was trying to take photos and my hand was shaking.” // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

“I’ve been a diehard [Bautista] fan since I was in Grade 9; that was four years ago and my mom [Sarah] recently became a fan. I’ve always been a Jays fan,” says Morgan. “Those years where they weren’t doing well was great because we could actually get seats. [Seeing José Bautista today] was really cool; I was trying to take photos and my hand was shaking.” // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

“[I got the bat] for my father, actually, he’s a super Bautista fan. It’ll be [something to] pass on to [Liam],” says Nick. // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

“[I got the bat] for my father, actually, he’s a super Bautista fan. It’ll be [something to] pass on to [Liam],” says Nick. // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

“I’ve probably been a huge [Bautista] fan for the last two years. Last year was pretty exciting so obviously I jumped on the bandwagon,” says auction winner Galen Sheehan. “I grew up watching the Jays since I was a kid. I was watching a half dozen games a year with my parents and grandparents.” Reaction to Bautista’s epic bat flip? “Out of my seat.” // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

“I’ve probably been a huge [Bautista] fan for the last two years. Last year was pretty exciting so obviously I jumped on the bandwagon,” says auction winner Galen Sheehan. “I grew up watching the Jays since I was a kid. I was watching a half dozen games a year with my parents and grandparents.” Reaction to Bautista’s epic bat flip? “Out of my seat.” // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

“I started [the BFEF] in 2011,” explains Bautista. “When I first came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic, I got help from a similar foundation and unfortunately the gentleman that was running it got sick and he couldn’t continue to do what he was doing. I wanted to give back and I felt like that was the easiest way. Education was very important to me and my family growing up so I thought it was a perfect match. It’s been helping kids go to college from low-income families for a long time now and it’s going great. We have 38 kids in different colleges throughout North America right now. They’re all great kids; they just needed an opportunity.” // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

“I started [the BFEF] in 2011,” explains Bautista. “When I first came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic, I got help from a similar foundation and unfortunately the gentleman that was running it got sick and he couldn’t continue to do what he was doing. I wanted to give back and I felt like that was the easiest way. Education was very important to me and my family growing up so I thought it was a perfect match. It’s been helping kids go to college from low-income families for a long time now and it’s going great. We have 38 kids in different colleges throughout North America right now. They’re all great kids; they just needed an opportunity.” // Photo © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine

Photos © Sadé Powell & Urbanology Magazine