After marking one first in baseball competition at the Canada Summer Games, 16-year-old Jaida Lee is readying for another.
Lee is set to throw the ceremonial first pitch Saturday when the Blue Jays play against Cleveland in Toronto.
“Very excited. It’s really cool that I’m probably going to get to meet some of them,” Lee said Thursday. “I plan on throwing an actual pitch.”
“I don’t think she’ll have any trouble getting it over the plate,” said her father, Dave Lee. “She’s pretty good. She’s always in the zone, so I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.”
That throw will round out a historic week for the girl, who was Newfoundland and Labrador’s flag-bearer for the tournament’s opening ceremonies, and broke barriers when she became the first female to pitch in men’s baseball competition at the Games.
Jaida Lee: the first-ever female to play baseball at the Canada Games. ⚾️ <br><br>The ball will be making its way to the <a href=”https://twitter.com/CDNBaseballHOF?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CDNBaseballHOF</a>. More history has been made at <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Niagara2022?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Niagara2022</a>.<a href=”https://twitter.com/teamnl?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@teamnl</a> | <a href=”https://twitter.com/baseballcanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@baseballcanada</a> | <a href=”https://twitter.com/jaidalee23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@jaidalee23</a> | <a href=”https://twitter.com/CanadaGames?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CanadaGames</a> | <a href=”https://twitter.com/BaseballNL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@BaseballNL</a> <a href=”https://t.co/0MLuSIzSzx”>pic.twitter.com/0MLuSIzSzx</a>
Jaida Lee played in two innings in Newfoundland and Labrador’s loss to Alberta on Monday. The ball she used is heading to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Once I was out there, it was just like any other game,” she said. “But getting out there in general, like walking out and everybody cheering, it was a bit nerve-racking.”
‘A role model’
Lee said that because of her position in the Summer Games, she’s met many other young women who are trying to further their playing careers in men’s baseball — and she’s hoping lots more get a chance to follow in her footsteps.
She said she’s been told that some families had been waiting for months to watch her pitch in that game against Alberta.
“That’s pretty cool to hear and see that. Like, I actually am a role model with some younger girls,” she said.
Dave Lee said she relishes both the attention and the opportunity to connect with younger players.
“The fact that little girls are coming to her games and she’s inspiring them, I think that’s really a big deal for her.”
Even if it feels surreal to see his daughter break down barriers and secure her place in the history books, Dave Lee said his daughter has been staying focused.
They are out of medal contention, but Team N.L. will play once more in baseball competition at the 2022 Canada Summer Games — facing P.E.I. on Friday morning.
Jaida Lee said her next goal is to represent Canada at international sport competitions, adding she’d like to play in a college baseball competition too.
Her father said her place in history is already secure.
“If Jaida gave up playing ball in two years, the fact that she can bring her kids back to the baseball Hall of Fame and show them what she’s done, I think that’s certainly the highlight.”
“But I think there’s going to be a lot more ball after this.… I think she has many, many more moments coming.”