This article originally appeared on VICE Sports Canada.
Baseball fever has effectively swept through Toronto, as the Blue Jays head into Game 6 versus the Kansas City Royals on Friday night. But regardless of the result of the game, when the clay dust settles on this season, the image that will be remembered most from the 2015 Blue Jays playoff run will be Jose Bautista's bat flip in the seventh inning of Game 5 against the Texas Rangers in the ALCS. The image of Bautista flipping his bat triumphantly after watching the ball sail into the stands became one of the most iconic sports images for Jays fans, on par with Joe Carter rounding the bases after hitting a walk-off homer to win the 1993 World Series.
After seeing the play happen live on TV, Lee Baxter, owner of Toronto tattoo shop FY Ink, immediately decided that the image needed to be permanently commemorated on someone's body with ink. Baxter posted the photo on the shop's social networks, and within an hour they had found someone willing to drive in from Oshawa, Ontario, to get the image on their thigh.
Scoot Mason, the tattoo artist behind the ink of all the big celebrities in Toronto opened the shop at 10 AM the next day, and proceeded to work on the piece for six straight hours while a sign hung on the window challenging all those who walked past the shop to also get inked.
Mason is no stranger to working on tattoos in the sports world, as he's become the defacto go-to guy in Toronto for athletes who need ink. His client list includes Jonathan Bernier, Terrence Ross, Roman Polak, Norman Powell, and more—and those are just the athletes. He's also done work on musicians and actors, transforming FY Ink into a destination spot for anyone coming to town looking for work. "When you tattoo someone you go from not really knowing them to building a crazy bond," explains Mason. "People open up to you like you wouldn't believe."
Mason says that he gains most of his clients through word of mouth, and that it all started off four years ago when he tattooed All-Star Chris Bosh, who was playing for the Raptors at the time. That moment, combined with Mason's readiness to make house calls, led to him tattooing a long line of Raptors, Blue Jays, and Maple Leafs players. "I'm not a huge sports fan, so these guys appreciate not being hassled," explains Mason. "I'm too busy tattooing people everyday to be looking at sports, and that lets the athletes be so much more comfortable around me."
The longest session Mason ever did belonged to Toronto Raptor James Johnson, who sat for dozens of hours while he got a back piece of a lion at a watering hole. But despite Mason working with a number of athletes, he says that there aren't many patterns he can see in the same sport. "It really all depends. I guess these guys have a lot in common since they all play sports, but it differs depending on the day. James Johnson can sit for about eight or nine hours at a time on some days."
As for the tattoo of Bautista's bat flip, Mason says that although others have requested the same design, he won't recreate it. "I'd need to find a different picture of it. I don't like repeating tattoos, so I don't think I'd do it again, for my client's sake." Bautista himself reached out to Mason and provided gear and tickets for the whole FY Ink shop, along with a signed bat for the person whose thigh is currently adorns with the legendary bat flip. "He said tattoos aren't really for him," says Mason of his conversation with Bautista. "But I told him whenever he's ready, like say they win the World Series, I'll be here when he changes his mind."
All photos courtesy Scoot Mason, FY Ink