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Ted Rogers statue is out of place at Toronto’s baseball home

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Ted Rogers will watch over the Rogers Centre from now on. (Reuters)

TORONTO – Boston has Ted Williams. Pittsburgh has Roberto Clemente. San Francisco has Willie Mays. And now, Toronto has Ted Rogers.

If you think one of these things is not like the other, you’re not alone.

Rogers Communications, the owner of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre, unveiled on Tuesday a 12-foot high statue of company founder Ted Rogers. The statue of the former Blue Jays owner will live permanently outside Gates 5 and 6 on Bremner Boulevard.

All the wonderful things said about Ted Rogers during the ceremony were true. But the obvious choice for a statue of this nature would have been their corporate offices in downtown Toronto, rather than a venue which is, first and foremost, considered a baseball stadium.

“Ted always felt the Blue Jays played a central role in the civic pride of our country and he loved being amongst the fans…I couldn’t imagine a better home for this special tribute,” said Loretta Rogers, Ted’s wife.

Ted Rogers bought the Blue Jays in 2000 and remained at the helm until his death in 2008. He bought the SkyDome in 2004 and renamed it the Rogers Centre. Throughout the unveiling ceremony, which was presided over by members of his family and other Rogers suits, those in attendance were reminded that Rogers “saved” the Blue Jays from a potential sale and move to outside Toronto.

“My dad wanted to preserve the team in this city,” said Edward Rogers, Ted’s son. “We will bring the World Series back to Toronto.”

In a move to make the new statue more palatable to fans – or maybe to convince themselves it is a good idea – Rogers provided a statue fact sheet that pointed out Toronto joins six other major-league cities with statues honouring owners.

The problem is, that list includes Nolan Ryan (Texas), a Hall of Fame pitcher; Connie Mack (Philadelphia), a Hall of Fame manager; Gene Autry (Angels), who brought the Angeles to Los Angeles and owned the team for more than 30 years; and Bud Selig (Milwaukee), who brought the Brewers to Milwaukee after losing the Braves and is baseball’s current commissioner.

To make matters worse, the statue says Ted Rogers was the founder and CEO of Rogers, but makes absolutely no mention of the Blue Jays.

The unveiling came just two days after the Blue Jays added former slugger Carlos Delgado to its Level of Excellence. The Level of Excellence honours former Blue Jays inside the Rogers Centre. It includes the likes of Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar – one, the hero of the 1993 World Series; the other, the only Baseball Hall of Famer to enter the Hall wearing a Blue Jays cap.

All in all, it makes for a curious choice for the city’s first statue outside a sports venue. One that left most fans scratching their heads.

Let’s just hope Harold Ballard isn’t next.

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