Off the Field

Remember when the Blue Jays had a tiger in the clubhouse?

Jose Bautista Instagram

“Tiger King” is the number one show on Netflix in Canada right now. It’s an unabashed train wreck that you can’t turn away from. Just when you think it couldn’t get any more ridiculous, it does.

So, as Netflix helps fill the void from the Major League Baseball season, for some reason, I found the parallel between this show and the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays, of all things.

As you may or may not recall, the Blue Jays brought a baby tiger and lion into their clubhouse in September 2014 as a “team bonding” exercise prior to a game at Rogers Centre.


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Forget Joe Exotic, here’s the original Tiger King Jose Bautista cradling a baby tiger.

Jose Bautista Instagram

But it wasn’t enough to bring in just one baby big cat, the Blue Jays had a baby lion in the clubhouse, as well. A baby tiger and a baby lion amongst dozens of people in an enclosed environment seems like a recipe for disaster, but everyone emerged with all their appendages.

Jose Reyes Instagram

After the fact, the Blue Jays took some heat from PETA and were accused of “inadvertently supporting cruelty and neglect”, according to this piece by John Lott and Sean Fitz-Gerald from the National Post.

Mark Buehrle was the one who arranged for the little beasts to visit the Blue Jays locker room. The animals paraded around the clubhouse, as all the players took photos with the baby tiger and lion.

Jose Bautista Instagram

Some players deleted the photos, but others like Drew Hutchison and Edwin Encarnacion kept the momentos on social media.

Edwin Encarnacion Instagram

Hutchison must have felt the eye of the tiger that afternoon, as he faced the Chicago Cubs and spun a 6.1 inning gem where he struck out ten and gave up only one earned run.

The soaring popularity of Tiger King has brought this to the forefront once again, and in retrospect, it’s crazy that the Blue Jays had these baby tigers and lions roaming the clubhouse before a game.

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.


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