By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
Eight and counting.
ExposFest organizer Perry Giannias is looking to come up with a nine-man lineup for his March 25 autograph session and banquet aptly entitled Gala des Celebrités at the Embassy Plaza in the Montreal suburb of Laval.
So far, Giannias has lined up starting pitcher Ken Hill, catcher Darrin Fletcher, second baseman Jose Vidro, shortstop Chris Speier, third baseman Larry Parrish, outfielders Ellis Valentine and Rusty Staub and closer John Wetteland. It has been years and years since Speier has been seen around Montreal so it will be nice for fans to catch up to him.
"I'll be meeting Speier and Parrish, my two all-time favourite players,'' Yves Chevrier of Sherbrooke, Que. said in a Facebook post.
Ideally, Giannias would like a first baseman and another outfielder to complete his starting lineup. Maybe he could coax Warren Cromartie or Andres Galarraga to come and play first and Vladimir Guerrero to fill the other outfield spot.
Knowing Giannias, he will be trying to pull some strings to get Guerrero to come so he can be honoured in Montreal for his recent election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
The fundraiser for the Kat D Foundation and the Montreal Children's Hospital starts at 4:30 in the afternoon when autograph seekers will line up for signatures until about 6 when the supper festivities begin. The night will consist of music by renowned Expos fan Annakin Slayd and the comedy of Gino Durante. Live and silent auctions will be hosted by Montreal radio personality Jeremy Filosa. Tickets are $150 each.
"This is our fourth major event and it will make two festival types and two galas with this one,'' Giannias said. "We are thinking of a family event for the summer.''
It's always a pleasure to watch and listen to Slayd and his band perform.
"I will be playing with a full band plugged in, which is different from past performances where we'd play acoustically,'' Slayd said. "And of course, we will be doing all the baseball songs: Remember, Kid, Tip that Cap and 94 Fall.''
As for Durante, watch, he might take some pokes at people in the audience. He'll keep you on your toes and make you laugh.
"With his great comedic timing, physicality, expressions and observational humor, Durante has quickly become a fan favourite on the stand-up comedy circuit in Montreal,'' Mike Cohen wrote in the Montreal weekly newspaper The Suburban back in 2016.
If you have any donations you want to make to the auctions being coordinated by Filosa, contact exposfest.com.
The fundraiser is dedicated to raising money to fight DIPG (an aggressive brain tumor) in the name of Giannias' late niece Catherine (Kat) Demes.