"Forget American Pie, Blue Monday was day music died in Montreal''

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By Danny Gallagher

Canadian Baseball Network

Greg Leonard and I just recently renewed acquaintances after a 25-year lapse.

You know how it goes. You move away and you lose contact with people.

Leonard and Skip Snair were bartenders at a hustling, bustling bar called Derek's in downtown Montreal years ago and they would entertain fans, journalists, umpires and even some Expos players. Leonard is currently living in Philadelphia and working for a sports and entertainment agency in unison with two partners.

Anyway, we got talking about my upcoming book Blue Monday: The Expos, The Dodgers and the Home Run That Changed Everything.

"Forget about American Pie,'' Leonard said. "Blue Monday was the day the music died for us in Montreal. It's a visceral sentiment.''

What an apt way to size it all up. So true for many Expos players and officials involved with that 1981 team and so true for hundreds and thousands of Expos fans around North America.

If Rick Monday had only grounded out to second to bring home the winning run, would he be a villain in Montreal and Canada? Probably not.

If Monday had only hit a sacrifice fly to bring home the go-ahead run, would he be a villain?

Probably not.

But Monday, on a cold Monday, Oct. 19, 1981, drilled a pitch from Expos legend Steve Rogers over the right-centre field fence to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a go-ahead 2-1 lead and the Dodgers went on to win the World Series. A home run, rather than a sac fly or RBI ground out, has riled Expos fans to this date.

"I was there. What a crushing defeat,'' Mark Vinet told me.

Down in Mobile, Ala., J.D. Darley had grown to love the Expos, especially idolizing Tim Raines. He can't wait for the rendition of that 1981 season to be published.

"I will buy a few books,'' Darley wrote me. 

"I went back to Pittsburgh that night after I went to that game that Monday and I was so depressed the rest of October 1981,'' said Montreal expat Joel Kirstein, who has lived in Dallas, Tex. for years. "I was numb flying back to university in the U.S. after the game. I have no recollection how I got from my seat at the Big O to my apartment off campus. I'm sure I cried. I couldn't rationally discuss it for months without becoming enraged.

"It's said that you have to know how to lose before you can win. By that standard, the 1981 Expos were better equipped making us believe they'd go all the way. When we lost Game 5 of the NL pennant to LA, the five stages of loss overtook me except I skipped bargaining and still haven't resigned myself to acceptance. ''

In Calgary, Craig Sorette said he was 11 at the time of Blue Monday.

"I cried all the way back across the Mercier Bridge in Montreal, according to my dad,'' Sorette remembered. "Then I met Steve Garvey out here in the early 1990s. I told him how his pal ruined my childhood. He hugged me.''

I'm going through my second round of proofreading of my book, looking for typos, missing words and so on, so that it all makes sense when you read it. I interviewed 72 people for the book. 

The Foreword was done by Expos third baseman Larry Parrish and I have dedicated the book to Charles Bronfman, John McHale, Jim Fanning, Harry Renaud and Gerry Snyder. Bronfman, McHale and Fanning need no introduction but you might not be familiar with Renaud and Snyder. Renaud was the Expos' CFO and bookkeeper from 1968 to 1981 while Snyder was the Montreal city councillor, who successfully lobbied National League owners to grant Montreal a franchise in 1968.

Blue Monday is being released by Toronto publisher Dundurn Press on Oct. 13 in Canada so that it coincides more with the big date in the book: Oct. 19. It's also playoff time in the major leagues so it's a timely book for the fall and Christmas season as I stickhandle it into a maze of hockey offerings.

Blue Monday can be pre-ordered at amazon.ca, amazon.com, indigo.ca or from your local bookseller. Many people have pre-ordered already so step right up and get your book delivered to your residence. The softcover with 20 photos and half a dozen Excel charts retails for $23.99.

Looking for some nuggets and some secrets that have never been spilled before? You will find them in the book.

 

Danny Gallagher

Danny was born in Ted Lindsay's hometown of Renfrew, Ont. but his roots are in nearby Douglas. He played 27 consecutive seasons of top-level amateur baseball in the senior ranks in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec and thrived on organizing events himself, the major one being the highly successful 1983 Canadian senior men's tournament in Sudbury. He began covering the Montreal Expos in 1988 when he joined the Montreal Daily News. Later, he was the Expos beat writer for the Ottawa Sun and Associated Press. He has written four baseball books, including Remembering the Montreal Expos, which he co-authored with Bill Young of Hudson, Que. Gallagher and Young are currently working on a book about the ill-fated 1994 Expos squad. Gallagher can be reached here: dannogallagher@rogers.com