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Corner Brook native had special role in Blue Jays home opener

Cpl. Corey Colbourne snapped this picture during rehearsal for the flag ceremony that took place during the home opener for the Toronto Blue Jays on April 11.
Cpl. Corey Colbourne snapped this picture during rehearsal for the flag ceremony that took place during the home opener for the Toronto Blue Jays on April 11.

Cpl. Cory Colbourne never thought he’d be a member of the Canadian military.

Nicholas Mercer

Growing up in Corner Brook, that honour seemed better suited for one of his brothers, the 43-year-old thought. More than likely, Colbourne was better known for his exploits on the baseball diamond at Jubilee Field and the influences he was having on young people in the local minor program.
He was working out west when he made a decision that would change the direction of his life.
That was a decade ago and he’s never looked back.
A member of the 2 Air Movement Squadron at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, where he is a traffic technician, Colbourne and about 200 of his military family were at centre field of the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., for the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2017 home opener.
He wasn’t supposed to be there. By chance, one of the original flag bearers was unable to attend and the spot was offered to Colbourne.
Like a lot of kids in the city, Colbourne grew up a baseball nut. Rarely does a love for the game leave you.
He’s still a baseball nut.
Colbourne jumped at the opportunity. Leaving on a bus in the early morning of April 11, the group barreled towards the Big Smoke.
Their job was to unfurl a massive Canadian flag in centre field as the final notes of “O Canada” left the lungs of Canadian country songstress Jess Moskaluke and resonated with the more than 50,000 people inside the mammoth stadium.
After lugging the flag down a couple of levels, Colbourne and the group were positioned just beyond the left field fence. He saw the likes of Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis getting some extra swings in at the batting cage, and heard starter J.A. Happ cracking the catcher’s mitt in the bullpen.
He heard the roar of the crowd and listened as Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was honoured for his hall of fame induction.
That was hard for him. Raines was an all-time favourite of his and was only 200 feet away, but Colbourne was unable to shake his hand.
For a couple of fleeting moments, Colbourne was sure to be back patrolling the outfield in Jubilee Field.
While a member of the senior Barons for several seasons, he played a smooth outfield — left and centre — and was respectable at the plate.
Coincidentally, those were the only places he touched during the home opener.
“I tried to get close enough to the infield to scoop up some dirt and put it in my pocket, but I couldn’t get there,” said Colbourne.
During the ceremony, he had a direct view of the giant screen in centre field. He could see each Jay hit the field as they were being introduced to the crowd. Colbourne had to make sure he was constantly looking for his cue to unfurl the flag or he would’ve been entranced by what was on the screen.
“I was like a kid in a candy shop,” he said.
When the ceremony was finished and the larger-than-life Canadian flag was stowed away, Colbourne wasted little time getting to his seat.
There was a ball game to watch.

Nicholas Mercer is the online editor with The Western Star. He lives in Corner Brook and can be reached at

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