Monday, 31 March 2014

Monday Mornings with Mitchy

Play ball!

But, it just wasn’t the same.

Baseball fans waited 10 years for the return of baseball in Montreal. Finally, over 96,000 tickets were sold to watch exhibition ball between the Mets and Blue Jays.


Walking up for Pie IX, in a sea of people decked out in Montreal Expos gear, the nostalgia that I was hoping to experience wasn’t quite there.

The field looked the same, the stadium was as crap-tastic as ever and baseball was being played… but it wasn’t ‘nos amour.’

But that’s ok, I should have expected it. This was an event and hopefully it gets the dialogue rolling.

Regular season baseball began Sunday night, at Petco Park in San Diego and a single game record at the field was recorded… 45,567. Our numbers, speak for themselves.

Hopefully, this was the first step to returning baseball here, so that it CAN be the same.


But that was Friday, Saturday WAS the same.

My childhood relieved, my heroes in the flesh.

There they were, the 94’ Expos, in the jersey’s that I watched play in as the best team in baseball.

I almost didn’t go to the gala. But the opportunity was a one-time thing. Never again will we see that collection of players, together in the same place.

Thanks Cro.

Among special shoutouts to the players on that team:

Darren Fletcher, who lived no more than 10 houses away from me in the West Island. And what do you do when you have a professional athlete on your street at 9-years-old? Well obviously, you knock on the door and ask for tickets!

And there were always tickets, at Will Call when I asked.

Even the one time I knocked on the door and Darren’s wife answered.

“Darren’s sleeping,” said his wife.

“Huh!?! It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon…”  I thought to myself.

The look of confusion on my face, must have spoken for itself.

“He was on a trip to the West Coast, and he’s trying to sleep off the jet lag,” she tried to explain…

Still, I didn’t get it.

“Don’t worry, they’ll be tickets waiting at Will Call.”


And to Pedro Martinez who wasn’t there this weekend, thanks for showing me how to grip a curve ball, slider and splitter.

“Baseball day” in the West Island, in 1994. Sometime in June, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the Expos sent players to Beacon Hill Park, in Beaconsfield to give some instructions and of course sign autographs.

You would expect to see backups and relievers, which would have been just fine.

But the stars showed up that day.

Larry Walker and Pedro cooped up in the back of a van came out and genuinely seemed happy to be there.

Fascinated by the art of pitching while being undersized, I wondered, how the heck did Pedro do it.

The velocity on his fastball, the break on his curve and the change up that kept hitters completely off balance. He wasn’t muscle-bound and kind of looked like a regular dude.

When my group of 15 kids got to his station, I was in awe as he wrapped his ridiculously long fingers right around the baseball. Looking on in amazement, I was trying to memorize all the different grips.

All you have to do is hold the ball a certain way, and you can pitch like Pedro?!

I realize a little later, that it wasn’t quite the case.

Before Pedro left, he had one last tidbit of advice for us.

“Don’t try throwing the curve ball until you’re at least 13-years-old, you’re going to hurt your elbow and it’s not good until your arm is more developed!”

As the little van drove away, every kid in the park was trying to throw the new pitch they just learnt.

The Slick Awards

Thank You:

Felipe Alou, Pedro Martinez, Darren Fletcher, Larry Walker, Cliff Floyd, Sean Berry, Wil Cordero, Marquis Grissom, Moises Alou, Ken Hill, John Wetteland, Rondell White,Tim Scott, Denis Boucher, Gil Heredia, Lou Frazier, Tim Spehr, Joe Kerrigan, Pierre Arsenault, Joey Eischen, Claude Raymond.

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