Monday Morning Musings

Posted on September 20, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet


Play Ball!

(If you’re not a baseball fan, go check your Twitter account or do some push ups)

This is the second in a series of collaborations with fellow writer, Shelley Carroll. “She said. He said”, will appear from time to time, until Shelley realizes that this marriage could possibly sully Shelley’s sterling reputation. [I guess we should have talked about a literary pre-nup then, eh sport? Fear not – I can sully your rep even worse! – SC]


She said:

My good friend Len has once again offered me the opportunity to collaborate with him on a piece and I’m all agog! He even gave me the responsibility of choosing the topic and preparing the opening paragraph. But this time, we’ll be in separate rooms, different locales, and without wine or beer! It’s daunting. Instead of Lennon and McCartney, this time we’re more like Elton John and Bernie Taupin… minus the flare and, at least on my part, any musical talent.

So many possible topics immediately came to mind – our mutual fondness for the use of bad words, Len up North and doing a new thing vs. me here in Amherst going through old things, his perspective on ANYTHING as a male “septuagenarian” (his word of choice!) compared to my view as a female pushing 50 with a broom … the possibilities are endless!

After much banter back and forth, we have decided: the Expos!

Growing up in Montreal in the 70’s and 80’s, there was no bad seat at the Big O. In fact, there were always many seats available – no game was ever sold out. No matter where you sat, you could hear the cry of “bière/beer!” or “chip/peanut/crack’r Jack!” You’d enjoy the musical stylings of Fernand Laperrière on the organ and just like the song implies, “root root root for the home team”.

Those were the days. Mom, Dad, my brother Danny and I partook of many games, often in the nosebleeders, hoping to catch a fly ball. Preferably one launched out of the park by The Kid (#8 Gary Carter), The Rock (#30 Tim Raines), or The Hawk (#10 Andre Dawson).

Mom was a HUGE Expos fan. Her fave was Andre Dawson. Danny and I always picked number 10 at school sports in his honour. But for me, Gary Carter was the cat’s ass. He signed an 8-year contract with “nos amours” when I was 8 years old. And I had big plans. I would be a bat girl when I turned 15, in the final year of his contract, and he would fall madly in love with me. But our love would be forbidden on account of his age. Alas, my little prepubescent heart was broken: he up and left me for the Mets before I even developed hips or boobs!

More often than not, though, we’d enjoy the Expos games the old-fashioned way – by tuning in to CFCF Radio 60 and listening to Duke Snyder and Dave van Horne colour-commentate. After the game, I’d doze off listening to Ted Teavan’s post-game show on my clock radio.

You’d think that growing up in the heart of Montreal that our family would have been Habs fans. Nope! Dad hates the Habs with a passion – not so much the team, but moreso the media that surrounds it. Early in their 50+ year marriage, he lured Mom over to the dark side as well. They’re Bruins fans! Each spring, Dad mows a big Bruins emblem in the yard. It’s like he wants the house to catch fire.


He said:

It’s almost October. Fall is in the air. The leaves will be turning color soon in many parts of Canada. Not so much in the north. The Toronto Blue Jays are making a serious drive to get a spot in Major League Baseball’s (MLB) post season. Despite the Jays winning two championships in the 90s, make no mistake about it, there was a time that the Montreal Expos were Canada’s team. They played their first game on April 8, 1969 and their last game in Canada on September 29, 2004, when the team was moved to Washington, D.C.

It was a sad day.

“Something touched me deep inside, the day the music died.”

American Pie – Don Mclean


She said:

I was pregnant with my oldest son when I had the opportunity to catch a game with my brother in the spring of 1999. I wish I’d gone. But my very pregnant bladder and around-the-clock morning sickness didn’t give me much confidence in such an excursion.


He said:

I can’t remember the exact year, but it was another road trip to Montreal. Like Shelley, I have Montreal roots. My mom was born there and grew up in the hard scrabble neighborhood of Point St. Charles. It is hardly surprising then that any team with the name ‘Montreal’ in it would become our family’s team. We cheered for the Alouettes, the Expos and of course, Les Habitants.

I do remember that my brother Gerard and my brother-in-law, Benny were in the car that drove to Montreal to watch the Expos play at Olympic Stadium, more affectionately known as “The Big Owe”.

It’s the 7th inning stretch and look who just slipped into an empty seat in Jarry Park beside Shelley and Len. It’s Gerard – Len’s brother.

His brother said:

When Expos fans reminisce about their team, some remember their bittersweet season in 1994

when they led the majors in August looking World Series bound, but all for naught with the

baseball strike ending the year, and as it turns out the beginning of the end for the franchise.

Others chose to remember the future Hall of Famers that passed through their ranks : Larry

Walker,Pedro Martinez, Andre “the Hawk”Dawson, Tim “Rock “Raines , Gary Carter to name a

few, as well as the oddballs : who could forget  Bill “Spaceman “ Lee or Ron “Pigpen “ Hunt who

reveled in breaking records for being hit by pitches ?

However, my fondest memories are the earliest futile years  beginning in 1969 with them

becoming Canada’s national team long before the Blue Jays were even a thought.We fell in

love with a bunch of cast offs with names like Mudcat Grant, Dick the Monster Radatz, Coco

Laboy, the Mayor of Jonesville Mack Jones , and the fan favourite, Le Grand Orange , Rusty

Staub . But where they played was a delightful intimate rejigged venue called Jarry Park, a

suitable setting for full display of Quebec’s joie de vivre ; a full out carnival atmosphere  no

matter what the score : who can forget The Dancer , a rather heavy fellow who would lead the

charge up and down the stands during seventh inning stretch, and the announcer Claude

Mouton announcing  “ Le receiveur …John Bocca..BELLa or inventing glorious French words

such as “un coupe de circuit “for home run or base volee for stolen base .

So this is the memory I chose to remember: a team of fun and lowered: Let’s go Expos !!!

She said:

Dad recalls that then-mayor Jean Drapeau said at the time that the odds of construction of the Olympic Stadium running up a huge debt for the city were the same as a man having a baby. I’m no medical expert, but I’m guessing he was wrong.


He said:

There were serious cost overruns, and it took thirty years to pay off the debt.

It was late in the night when we crossed the border into Quebec. There were no motel rooms available which was probably a good thing because it saved us the money that we could then spend on more beer and peanuts at the ball game. The sun was nearly coming up when exhaustion kicked in. We pulled into a provincial park and slept on top of picnic tables. Any port in a storm for a Maritimer.

The details are sketchy. Any road trip back in the 70s was a low budget, low brow affair. I believe we scraped up enough money to get a hotel in the downtown area. I’m quite certain that it wasn’t the Queen Elizabeth! We were a bit seedy as we got on the subway at Peel and headed for the ballpark. I couldn’t tell you the names of many subway stops in Montreal but the most famous back then was Pie-IX. We Anglos just called it ‘pie 9’. A few steps from the metro and we were in the bowels of the Big O. It felt like a giant crypt.


She said:

Ah yes, Montreal’s very own concrete jungle!


He said:

The starting lineup that day included Gary Carter (The Kid and Shelley’s heartthrob), Andre Dawson (The Hawk) and Warren Cromartie (Cro). I don’t remember anything about the game other than the outrageous price for beer and hot dogs. We could have bought a case of Schooner beer and a dozen wieners for the same price at home.

Shelley failed to mention two notable Expos. Rusty Staub (Le Grand Orange) played for the Expos from 1969-1971. Looking back, it seems longer than that, but Wiki never lies! He was a power hitter and a fan favourite. He was one of the first Expos bona fide stars.

But of all the Expos who came and went over the years, none was more colorful than Bill “Spaceman” Lee. While Lee was a talented pitcher, he was better known for his unusual personality, something sorely lacking in most professional sports these days. Outside the chalk lines of the ball field, Lee would often pontificate on a wide variety of topics like politics and the environment. According to Fanbuzz, “Lee also once claimed that his extensive marijuana use – including sprinkling marijuana oh his pancakes in the morning – was beneficial to his health and made him impervious to bus fumes while jogging to Fenway Park for work.”


She said:

We were in Summerside PEI one summer when The Spaceman made an appearance at a softball tournament. Dad whipped out his Player’s cigarettes, tore off a piece of the packaging, and had me approach Bill Lee for an autograph. I still have it in an old book somewhere in the “Carroll Family Archives” on Harvey Street!


He said:

Serious Expos fans (you know who you are) will painfully remember Blue Monday in 1981 when Dodger hitter Rick Monday smacked a home run off Steve Rogers, ending Montreal’s chances to get to the World Series that year.

The last word goes to Shelley.


She said:

Firstly Len, thanks for letting me take this little trip down Expos Memory Lane – all the more special because you let me join you! *sigh* It makes me long for a Hygrade hot dog with coleslaw. And maybe a flat overpriced beer…


“Put me in coach – I’m ready to play!”

Centrefield – John Forgarty

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