MacDonald covered Expos from almost beginning to end
By Danny Gallagher
If there was a journalist, who should have written a book or two about the Expos, it was Ian MacDonald.
He knew the franchise inside and out from pretty much the beginning to the end in 2004.
He would have had tales coming out of his ears, stories that most people would never know about. He would have kept them confidential instead of embarrassing people in the game about shenanigans off the field, for example.
I first met up with MacDonald in the summer of 1988 when I joined the Expos beat for the Montreal Daily News. I was 37, he was 60. MacDonald was part of the three-member beat-writing team for the Montreal Gazette with Paul Carbray and Jeff Blair also contributing.
MacDonald soon had me signed up as a card-carrying member of the Montreal chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Over time, I got to appreciate MacDonald for his ability to pry information out of players, coaches, executives and a number of managers including Buck Rodgers, Tom Runnells and Felipe Alou.
Because MacDonald was one of the senior members of the media covering the Expos in the 1980s and 1990s, it was easy and respectful for baseball people to talk to him. I was told that he had quit drinking years earlier but it wasn’t a topic I broached with him.
I knew that he had a fight with Montreal Alouettes football coach Jim Trimble years ago and lost but I didn’t know until a few days ago that he had a fight with Expos pitcher Clay Kirby way back when.
What I admired Mac for was that he dug in and covered other sports, including his beloved swimming and auto racing.
In 2009, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame selected him as the winner of the Jack Graney Award, given to the journalist who has spent a significant amount of his time to writing about Canadian baseball in the course of his work. A year later, he was presented with the award at a ceremony in St. Marys.
What struck me about MacDonald over the years was that he was quite shy. Sure, he could fire off expletives with the best of them but deep down, there was something very humble about him.
I was saddened to hear and read that he had died. He had a full life. Condolences go out to his family.