Plano West Alum Billy McKinney Loving Baseball Life Up North with Blue Jays

Billy McKinney recently experienced a first in his baseball career – his first trip back to Dallas-Fort Worth as a big-leaguer. Between May 3 and 5, the Plano native was in town with the Toronto Blue Jays for a three-game series against the Rangers in Arlington. Billy, 24, appeared in all three games, including a 2-for-4 performance on Saturday, May 4.

“It’s really exciting. I grew up 30 minutes away, so I’ve been to games [here],” McKinney said before Saturday’s game at Globe Life Park in Arlington. “Just excited for my parents to see me play and to see my family.”

On March 30, 2018, Billy made his big-league debut for the Yankees. Originally drafted 24th overall by Oakland in 2013, he was traded to the Cubs in July 2014. Two years later, Chicago shipped him to New York, and last July he was traded to Toronto.

“Yeah, just kind of right place, right time. Going through three trades, I was kind of used to it, with going to the Yankees and then coming here,” Billy admitted. “I’m really excited and thankful for the Blue Jays bringing me on board. This is another aspect of life. I’m ready for the journey.”

And in an ironic twist, after his big-league debut with the Yankees occurred in Toronto, his 2018 Blue Jays debut happened in the Big Apple. So, it makes sense Yankee Stadium remains one of his favorite places to play at on the road.

Billy McKinney // photos courtesy Toronto Blue Jays
Billy McKinney // photos courtesy Toronto Blue Jays

“I enjoyed [my time in New York],” he said. “I loved the way they go about their business. Obviously, [baseball] is a business. I’m glad to be here and look forward to my future with the Jays.” When asked about the amount of media coverage the Yankees get, he said, “It’s pretty wild, but it’s a big market so it kind of comes with it.”

Now that he’s been with Toronto for nearly a year, he’s completely embraced living and playing north of the border.

“The weather [is the biggest difference],” he said. “That’s an easy one, yeah. Definitely, how flat-out warm it is here compared to Toronto. Toronto’s always cool, if not cold.”

Regardless of where he’s played, he remains proud of his Plano roots and considers himself honored to be among several current pro athletes with similar ties, like Cameron Rupp, a catcher in the Tigers organization, and basketball’s Julius Randle of the NBA’s Pelicans, who both attended Prestonwood Christian Academy.

“It’s very cool,” Billy said. “Obviously, I’ve worked out with [Cameron] throughout the years. Julius, I’ve always loved watching him play. He had a great year with New Orleans. I try to keep up with those guys as much as possible.”

And Billy doesn’t hesitate in the least when saying that playing baseball for a living is nothing short of the greatest job on the planet.

“Yeah, just the relationships you make and the people you meet, it’s really cool,” he said. “I’ve met some great friends in this game and some great people, too. It’s really cool to be a part of it. Happy to be here.”

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