* Jonah Keri has another good one out and just in time for baseball's return to Olympic Stadium: Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos. .... 2014 Canadians in College Letters of Intent 2014 Canadian draft list 2013 Canadians in the Minors 2015 Canadian draft list
By Bob Elliott
Taking VIA Rail to Montreal to greet your Toronto Blue Jays as they return to Canada this weekend for the first time this year?
Need some reading material for the ride?
Or are you pining for your old team the Montreal Expos, Canada’s first team?
Well, we have a couple of suggestions.
Danny Gallagher grew up in Douglas, Ont. listening to the Hall of Fame broadcasters Dave Van Horne and Duke Snider.
Bill Young grew up in Quebec City, graduated McGill University in 1961 and eight years later fell in love with the expansionist Expos.
Jonah Keri grew up in Ville St Laurent a 25-minute drive (23 Metro stops) from the corner of Pie IX and Pierre de Coubertin where Olympic Stadium, previous home of the Montreal Expos sat without ball since 2004 until the New York Mets and the Blue Jays play there Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
Gallagher and Young have combined on an excellent new book Ecstasy to Agony: The 1994 Montreal Expos, a 379-page read which provides a behind-the-scenes look at the team and franchise which lost the most by the work stoppage.
The World Series, post-season play and all those October memories were cancelled.
Keri, perhaps the most prolific writer in North America, has penned the definitive history of the franchise in a book entitled Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos in a 416-page epic.
Often when writing about the Blue Jays I am accused of living in the past.
There is nothing wrong when the past when it is better than the present.
And that applies to the Expos.
Keri’s book was No. 2 on the best seller list in Canada (behind The Oh She Glows Cookbook) on Wednesday, day 19 on the top 100, and is both the No. 1 sports book and the history list.
Keri’s resume is a lot like himself: deep and all over the map. He writes for or has written for Grantland.com, ESPN.com, SI.com, Baseball Prospectus, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily.
The Montreal native who now lives in Denver, has appeared on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and wrote the New York Times best-seller “The Extra 2%” on the Tampa Bay Rays.
The first time I met Keri was at a 2008 wedding in Buffalo. He was an usher, paired with daughter Alicia, then an usherette and now of AOL.com, as the loverly smiling Kara Gilbert daughter of UB Hall of Famer and former University of Ottawa Gees head coach Don Gilbert, wed David Itzkovits.
After we discussed how lovely the bride was (and she was) and he explained how Montreal dancers would put the Buffalonians to shame in terms of stamina, we talked Expos until our meals were cold.
Me explaining how Andy McGaffigan liked to yell “we’re going down,” on Expos charters as the plane make a noise as they often do at 35,000 feet, He spoke passion for getting Raines elected to Cooperstown, making a ‘De Rookie of De Year’ sign for Delino DeShields and trips to Olympic Stadium with his pals to watch Larry Walker et al.
I’ve met Young and he’s always working at the SABR convention in Toronto years ago or in St. Marys.
My relationship with Gallagher dates to 1975 when he was fielding grounders for the Renfrew Red Sox and in full disclosure we worked together at the Ottawa Journal and shared a few bus trips covering the Ottawa ‘67s.
Gallagher, a newsman that if born 30 years earlier would have worn a Red Burnett fedora, covered the Expos for the Ottawa Sun and other outlets. Although the Expos departed for Washington, D.C. in 2004, he hasn’t stopped covering them.
And he hasn’t stopped with the news either as their book reveals nuggets like:
In 1992 then Expos GM Kevin Malone, picking third over all in the June draft, passed on Derek Jeter. Malone saw Jeter on a rainy day and the shortstop had a bad ankle. Plus the Expos had Wil Cordero, so they took B.J. Wallace with the third pick in North America. The lefty peaked at double-A.
Before the 1994 season a deal had been agreed upon to send Walker to the Baltimore Orioles for closer Armando Benitez and outfielder Alex Ochoa, before O’s owner Peter Angelos squashed it. Walker signed with the Colorado Rockies as a free agent in 1995.
The 1994 Expos sat alone in first six games up on the Braves on Aug. 11 when play stopped ... and never resumed under commissioner Bud Selig and union leader Don Fehr.
The Expos had beaten the Braves in five of their previous seven meetings.
In the outfield at Turner Field in Atlanta are 14 championship banners from 1991 to 2005.
The banner from 1994, the one that should have hung at Olympic Stadium, the one that still hang as the Expos take the field, can’t be seen.
If you don’t grasp why that is a shame, then you need to read the books.