Grimsley returns to Montreal for ExposFest fundraiser

 Ross Grimsley, the only pitcher to win 20 games in a season for the Montreal Expos, will be a guest at an ExposFest fundraiser this weekend. Photo Credit: MLB.com

Ross Grimsley, the only pitcher to win 20 games in a season for the Montreal Expos, will be a guest at an ExposFest fundraiser this weekend. Photo Credit: MLB.com

By Danny Gallagher

Canadian Baseball Network

Ross Grimsley hasn't been back to Montreal in a long time.

It's been 37 years since the former Expos pitcher set foot in Montreal after he departed the Expos near the end of the 1980 season. But he's returning Oct. 21 and 22 for an autograph session involving an Exposfest fundraiser at Centre Pierre Charbonneau on Via Blvd. as part of a Collectors Memorabilia event.

"I'm pretty thrilled to be coming back,'' said Grimsley. "Montreal has always been something very special. I'm very excited.''

Grimsley was the first and only pitcher in Expos' history to win 20 games, pulling the trick in 1978. On a pretty average team, he was superb, finishing 20-11 with a glittering 3.05 ERA and 19 complete games in 263 innings of work. Imagine what he did, compared to today's modern-day pitchers, many of whom work on a pitch count.

"1978 was probably one of the best years I had pitching-wise,'' Grimsley said from his home in the Baltimore area. "I loved the stadium, I loved the cold weather. I was just so locked in, pitching-wise and concentration-wise. I didn't throw really hard. I threw a lot of balls really slow. I was just one of those control-type guys. My whole family was in St. Louis for my 20th win, my mom, my whole family got to see it.

"I had a lot of offers when I became a free agent after the 1977 season but Montreal's was the best offer we had. With guys like Carter, Valentine, Parrish, Rogers, Dawson, Perez, we had the nucleus of a really outstanding team. it was great to be on a really young team. I really liked everybody but especially Steve Rogers.''

Away from the field, Grimsley has fond memories of living on Montreal's West Island and he got to know Montreal Canadiens legends Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson and Steve Shutt.

Grimsley tailed off dramatically in 1979 when he slipped to 10-9 and then he was gone part way through the 1980 season when he slipped even further to 6-9. When he wasn't doing so great in 1979, he popped his head into manager Dick Williams' office and asked why he wasn't being used as much.

"What's the deal?'' Grimsley asked Williams.

"You won 20 games, OK, but you are not effective,'' Williams replied.

Grimsley will be joined at the autograph table by Expos alumni Rodney Scott, Otis Nixon and Claude Raymond. They will be signing goodies between 1 and 3 p.m. on the October 21 and 22. Proceeds will go to the Montreal Children's Hospital and the Kat D DIPG foundation organized by Exposfest founder Perry Giannias.

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