Bassitt family ecstatic to give back in new community

July 20th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Keegan Matheson’s Blue Jays Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

TORONTO -- and his wife, Jessica, have been waiting for the right time to establish themselves as part of the community where they live and play.

That hasn’t been easy. Bassitt was drafted and debuted with the White Sox, was later traded to the A’s and spent one season with the Mets, but signing a three-year, $63 million deal with the Blue Jays this past offseason brought a sense of stability.

On Tuesday, prior to the Blue Jays’ opener against the Padres, the organization announced a new initiative called “Bassitts Pitch In,” which will support Jays Care Foundation. The Bassitts have pledged to donate $10,000 for every game the Blue Jays win in which Chris pitches, and they have already committed $120,000.

“Learning about Jays Care through Spring Training, I think it kind of spoke to me really, really quickly,” Chris said. “The more I looked into Jays Care, the more I thought, ‘Dang, this might be truly one of the best foundations in all of sports.’ Looking into it more and more, it made the decision really easy for me. We got involved with Jays Care and the Blue Jays in terms of what they do, what it means and who gets impacted. It made the decision pretty dang easy.”

This support will go to Jays Care’s RBI Summer Edition, a free program designed to enhance the mental and physical health of young people in under-resourced communities across Toronto. This year, more than 1,000 kids are participating.

“I think sports are so important,” Chris said. “I think they teach you so many things outside of the sport, like teamwork, learning how to deal with failure and the blossoming when it comes to personalities and things like that. I think every kid should have the opportunity to play sports. The more people that do, I think the world is a better place for it.”

Blue Jays players are involved in Jays Care events throughout the year, both at the ballpark and in the community. The upcoming events include the annual golf tournament and the broadcast auction, which always has a wide-ranging collection of memorabilia and experiences for Blue Jays fans to bid on throughout a game.

The Bassitts wanted to take that one step further, though, at this stage in their baseball journey.

“I’m from a very small town and he is, too,” Jessica said, “so [we had] parents who really taught us the importance of giving back. One of my favorite quotes that I heard growing up is, ‘If you’re blessed, be a blessing.’ With this contract that we have, we really wanted to make a difference with where we were going to be. We’re just very thankful to have great parents who raised us like that.”

The adjustment to a new city is never easy, though -- even in Toronto, which so many players have come to love. In many cases, there’s a hint of surprise after not knowing much about MLB’s one Canadian market, but the secret has been out on Toronto for years now.

In Bassitt’s early days with the organization this season, he spoke about how important that process can be. It’s not just about the funny-looking money and figuring out how to get to the ballpark, it’s about learning the names and personalities on your coaching staff, training staff, nutrition staff and everything in between. It can be like drinking from a firehose, even for a veteran like Bassitt who knows what it’s like to change organizations.

That adjustment is more pronounced for players with young families, too, and the Bassitts recently welcomed their second child. It’s been made easier, Jessica says, by the people around them.

“The people I’ve met here have been amazing and the transition has been made a lot easier because the people are so kind. I still miss Target,” Jessica joked. “I still miss some of my other stores and the grocery stores, but we’ve learned a lot. We went strawberry picking yesterday and it was just beautiful where we went. We’re excited to be here for three years.”