Current Centre Fielder for the Toronto Blue Jays, Kevin Pillar is what you get when you combine pure grit, passion, and an uncompromising determination to chase your dreams -and knock them out of the park.
Originally from West Hills, California, 27-year-old Pillar didn’t have the typical path during his baseball career. In the words of another Toronto style icon, he started from the bottom, now he’s here.
Originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 32nd round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft, Pillar was called up to the Blue Jays for the first time in his career on August 14th, 2013. After a string of sensational diving grabs where he appears to glide in the air longer than humanly possible, he has earned the highly-touted Superman nickname and persona. Pillar was acknowledged for his skills in 2015, when he was named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year for Centre Field.
Now in his 4th season with the Blue Jays, Pillar has made a home in Toronto alongside his lovely wife Amanda, whom he married in 2014. We had a chance to catch up with Kevin after our photoshoot (don’t worry fans, this was all during pre-season, we wouldn’t dare interfere with his practice time), to chat about Toronto, baseball, and his off-duty style.
So, how you feel about your adopted home of Toronto.
I love the city of Toronto. Every time I come back to the city, my feelings reassure me of that. I love how it has a big city feel but in a very intimate setting. Everything you could want or need is walking distance from the downtown area. I love the fact I can walk to work from my apartment, and join the endless amount of people who enjoy walking to their destinations. I actually enjoy the weather early on in the year since I don’t get to experience much of the weather back home in California. I love how diverse the city is not only with its people, but also its food and culture. I really feel like it’s a home away from home while I am here.
How does Toronto compare to your hometown in California?
The city is much different from where I actually live in California. I live in a suburb of Los Angeles away from the tall buildings and congestion you may see on television. I live in the city of Thousand Oaks, a quiet places away from the city lights. It is my escape from the city life that I get to experience while I am here in Toronto. As far as difference, where I live the weather is much warmer year around so I can really enjoy my off-season. Tell us about your favourite spots around the city. My wife and I really enjoy Gusto 101 and Ki Sushi, on the rare occasion we get to go out for a nice dinner out. Other than that, we love break-fast at What A Bagel. After a win or a night out on the town, we tend to go to Spin, or Citizen… but the Cactus Club is my new favorite.
Do you feel like the city and the fans have accepted you?
I love this city. People come to me all the time congratulating me on a great season and I appreciate the kind words. They have adopted the name Superman and it’s been really fun to live up to the expectations. Toronto definitely feels like a second home to me. My wife and I were both excited to get back up here and see our new place. I have a great feel for the city now and can’t wait to explore more of it this season.
How do Jays fans measure in comparison to other cities?
Jays fans are incredible. They are passionate, loud and sometimes flat out annoying – which gives us true home field advantage. What we got to experience last year in the second half and in the post-season was unlike anywhere that I have ever experienced on the road. This is my favorite place to play, and would love to play here for a long time.
They call you Superman. Have you fully embraced this persona?
I love the nickname Superman. It has been fun to be embraced by the people of Canada. I consistently try to raise the bar, and live up to the name. Blue Jays hysteria was loud and proud last year. Any predictions for this year? I expect to build off of what we had created last year.
The buzz is still around town and I expect to continue those feelings and emotions.
What is your biggest superstition or good luck ritual, on the field or before the games?
The game of baseball is so much built around ritual, since you play pretty much everyday, that I do not have time for superstition. Rituals are just ways to get yourself going, and making sure that you are properly prepared for every game that you play. Do you have any goals for this season, or for your career in general? Win. It’s that simple. I want to win a World Series, and be known as a winner at the end of my career.
Do you have any goals for this season, or for your career in general?
Win. It’s that simple. I want to win a World Series, and be known as a winner at the end of my career.
That’s a pretty great goal to have. On a more personal note, how would you describe your off the field style? Has it evolved since coming to Toronto?
I care about how I look and what I wear. I dress with confidence. I like fashion and I like dressing nice, whether it’s a suit and tie, or sweat pants; I still want to look good. My style is always evolving with the times. Toronto has a great sense of style, and a lot of the people that I have met here challenge my sense of style, and help me improve on it.
How does your style hold up to the other Jays?
I would say I am known as a very stylish dresser on our team, if not the best I am definitely up there. Stroman dresses very well, and we talk about fashion a lot and how we are constantly improving on our own personal styles. Russ also has a very good feel for style and fashion.
What would your wife say about your personal style?
Haha. She thinks I have great style… and too many shoes. But I do ask for her input from time to time.
As any good husband should. Tell us about your experience walking the Gotstyle runway.
I had a great time. It was something I never thought I would do. It was fun to experience someone else’s profession and all the ins and outs of preparing for the 1-minute walk down the runway. It was also fun to meet the other people that were involved, and I definitely look forward to doing it again.
How has your experience been shooting & working with the Gotstyle team?
Truly professional and their sense of fashion always seems to fit my personal style. It is like having your own stylist every time I work with them. I look forward to working together again in the near future.
We noticed a tattoo peeking out during our shoot – is there a story behind it? Is this part of a bigger collection, or collection yet to come?
I have more than just that one tattoo. All my tattoos tell a story. I would never put anything on my body that is not extremely important to me. The tattoo that is often seen on my elbow is a nautical compass, in tribute to my grandpa that passed away a couple years ago. He was a man of the sea, who always owned a boat and took the family out on it. Sometimes it was on trips from Coronado, San Diego, to Mexico; or chartering a boat in the Caribbean. He was a huge supporter of my dreams and someone I could always count on for advice.