TORONTO -- Ten centimeters of snow forced Kai Reum's journey to the Blue Jays' Tournament 12 (T12) baseball showcase to start a day early.The 17-year-old outfielder left his home in Grand Prairie, Alberta, Wednesday afternoon and spent the night in the Calgary airport just to make the tournament at Rogers
TORONTO -- Ten centimeters of snow forced Kai Reum's journey to the Blue Jays' Tournament 12 (T12) baseball showcase to start a day early.
The 17-year-old outfielder left his home in Grand Prairie, Alberta, Wednesday afternoon and spent the night in the Calgary airport just to make the tournament at Rogers Centre.
"I was worried the flight might be canceled and I might miss it," Reum said. "So I flew out before, left school and got here."
While most of Canada's baseball talent grows up along the United States border where temperatures make outdoor baseball playable for a few months of the year, Team Alberta has a pair of players who are accustomed to long commutes and short baseball seasons.
Growing up in a town of just over 60,000, Reum says he's constantly traveling to make baseball tournaments in Central Alberta.
"Every weekend. Five hours minimum," Reum said.
Without a television to watch Blue Jays baseball, he adopted the sport from his father, who played collegiate baseball at Pacific University. The two would play catch outdoors until the weather turned and they were forced inside. These days, Reum works out at the local indoor baseball facility in Grand Prairie or he heads to his basement where he has a baseball tee and hockey net set up for practice.
The baseball season is short in northern Alberta, too short if you ask Reum's grandfather, Bob Reum.
"This spring they had to go out, I've got pictures of them trying to get the snow off the field," Bob said. "Just because there were four feet of snow or whatever there was. So they had to clear it with snow blowers."
Reum's teammate Justin Breen from Fort McMurray, Alberta, certainly knows the feeling of swinging a bat in freezing temperatures.
"If it's not right on the barrel, it hurts," Breen said laughing. "We've been playing in like -10 outside, right before it snows in Fort Mac."
Breen grew up in the most northerly town of anyone at the T12 showcase. He, too, had grown accustomed to the long commutes to baseball tournaments until this past year when he moved to Okotoks, Alberta, to join the Okotoks Dawgs Baseball Academy.
"It's demanding," Breen's mother, Danylle Breen said. "But it's just something that living as far as we do that you just do."
Last year, Breen took the long trip south to try out for the T12 event.
"Guys back home said usually scouts don't come up [to Fort McMurray] and scout from here," Breen said. "But I was like I'm still going to give it a try."
The trip paid off. He made the team and went 2-for-6 with three runs and three RBIs in his first appearance.
The future is uncertain for Reum and Breen. The two plan to play college baseball in the future though they remain uncommitted. An impressive showing at this weekend's showcase in front of dozens of MLB and collegiate scouts could go a long way to helping ensure a bright baseball future.
Aaron Rose is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.