The Toronto Blue Jays have a new $150 million man: George Chelston Springer. For the second consecutive offseason, the Blue Jays landed a big-name free agent, and judging by the flurry of activity as of late, they aren’t done yet.
Up until last year, the 31-year-old outfielder spent his entire career as a member of the Houston Astros, but last week he inked the largest deal in Blue Jays history by committing to a six-year deal. It’s the fifth-largest free agent deal for an outfielder ever.
Springer is also suddenly the elder statesman in the Blue Jays lineup, as he joins the youngest lineup in baseball from one year ago. Nobody in the batting order is older than 30, save for the former Astro himself.
Since he’s going to be around for the foreseeable future, it only makes sense to get to know him a little better. Here are five fun facts about one of the newest Blue Jays on the roster.
1. This isn’t his first time as a Blue Jay
It was meant to be 😉 pic.twitter.com/SMVduvMZbQ
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) January 23, 2021
It’s interesting how baseball players’ careers can come full circle. Technically, this will be the second time Springer played for the Blue Jays, albeit the last case was when he was a kid as a member of the Connecticut Blue Jays.
This won't be the first time George Springer has played for a team called the #BlueJays. Growing up, he played on the Connecticut Blue Jays
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) January 20, 2021
2. Athletics run in the Springer family
If your last name is Springer, chances are you played athletics at an elite level. George’s father (also named George) played in the 1976 Little League World Series and also played college football.
George’s mother Laura was an elite gymnast, and George’s sisters played college softball. Springer’s wife Charlise was an All-Star softball player in college at the University of Albany and even represented her home country of Puerto Rico in the World Cup of Softball.
3. He’s the spokesperson for SAY: The Stuttering Association of the Young
According to the Stuttering Association of the Young, over 70 million people stutter, and 5% of all young kids deal with a stutter. The former World Series champion was one of that 5% of kids.
He’s open and honest about his stutter, in fact he’s a beacon of hope for young kids who stutter. Springer is the national spokesperson for SAY, and there are many examples of children being unafraid and embracing their stutter, thanks in part to Springer.
4. Springer idolized MLB outfielder Torii Hunter
It appears the seed was planted at a very young age for Springer to forge a path to the major leagues. An innocent game of catch with a minor leaguer could have been the impetus for Springer seeking a career in baseball.
He describes a fortuitous moment he had with an outfielder for the double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins: Torii Hunter. Hunter enjoyed a remarkable 19-year career playing the bulk of his games in centre field, not unlike Springer himself.
Springer and Hunter played catch in the outfield one day, and the youngster decided from that moment that he wanted to be just like Hunter.
“He didn’t know it, but at that point in time, he changed my life and I was eight years old. I wanted to be out on that field in Britain, Connecticut like he was,” Springer told ESPN.
5. Springer can do the Ozzie Smith backflip
This is one of the many positive side effects of growing up around gymnastics, but Springer can pull off the Ozzie Smith-style backflip. His mother taught him from the time he was 18 months old, and he practiced gymnastics until he was 12.
Back in his high school baseball days, Springer came onto the field and performed a backflip. But the gymnastics weren’t just for show; those skills would prove valuable later on as a professional baseball player.
“It helped me tremendously with body control and body awareness and being able to understand my own strength,” Springer told the Houston Chronicle.