Friday, March 26, 2010

Remembering "Nos Amours" - the Montreal Expos


This article was first published in the March 26th edition of Main Street Week and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by www.mainstreetweeknews.com to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox every Friday.

Regular readers of Main Street and my website, The Voice of Sport, are well aware of my feeling towards Major League Baseball and the dismantling and eventual departure of our beloved Montreal Expos. For those just joining us here at Main Street Week for the first time, let’s just say I am still bitter about the move to Washington and the consistently disgraceful play on the field by the team now called the Nationals. Thanks to the Can-Am baseball league and my friend, mentor and current member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Dirk Hayhurst, my love for the game has returned. As another MLB season gets underway, I thought it would be a great time to look back at “Nos Amours” - the Montreal Expos.

On the afternoon of April 8, 1969, the Montreal Expos took to the field for the first time in New York, playing the Mets at Shea Stadium. Manager Gene Mauch’s opening day line-up included Bob Bailey at 1st base, Gary Sutherland at 2nd, Maury Wills at shortstop, Coco Laboy at 3rd and Mack Jones, Don Hahn and the immortal Rusty Staub in the outfield. John Bateman was the catcher on opening day with right-handed pitcher Mudcat Grant on the mound. The Expos outlasted the Mets in a high-scoring affair, winning the game by an 11-10 score, with relief pitcher Don Shaw picking up the franchise’s first win.

Opening Day at Montreal’s Jarry Park was another historic moment for the franchise, winning the game 8-7 over the St. Louis Cardinals in front of 29,184 fans on April 14, 1969. Left fielder Mack Jones provided the highlights in the victory, hitting a three-run homerun and a two-run triple to power the offence and provide the city of Montreal with the distinction of being the first team to record a victory outside of the United States. On April 17, 1967, Bill Stoneman pitched the first no-hitter in Expos history in a 7-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. On October 2, 1972, he did it again, defeating the New York Mets 7-0 at Jarry Park; the first no-hitter ever recorded outside of the United States. Expected to be the Expos home for only three years, it was not until 1977 that the Expos moved from Jarry Park into the Olympic Stadium, much to the consternation of the MLB.

During the 35 years that the Expos called Montreal home, there were many highs and lows in the franchise’s history. The loss to the LA Dodgers in the NLCS in 1981, forever etched on the hearts of fans as “Blue Monday” and of course, the devastating players strike in 1994, which was the beginning of the end for the organization. Many stars played on the beautiful natural grass at Jarry Park and the unfortunate artificial turf at the Olympic Stadium; names like Staub, Stoneman, Jones, Dawson, Carter, Raines, Walker, Martinez, Alou and Guerrero, to name just a few, wore the uniform with pride and represented Quebec and Canada with distinction and humility. The Expos are gone but they are certainly not forgotten.

A quick reminder, MLB pitcher, author and Main Street supporter, Dirk Hayhurst, is set to celebrate the release of his first book, The Bullpen Gospels, on March 30th. Drop by your local bookstore and pick up a copy or visit Dirk’s website at www.dirkhayhurst.com to order one online. A tremendous person with a big heart, Hayhurst has overcome adversity to pursue his big-league dreams. Have a great sports day everyone.

Photo by slgckgc on Flickr.

2 comments:

Mario Robert, Archives of Montréal said...

To see colour photos of the first Expos game at Jarry Park, go the Montréal Archives web site at the following address : http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page?_pageid=165,39601564&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

The Voice of Sport said...

Thanks Mario for sharing that link :) It is a great way for folks to see the Expos in all their glory! Cheers - Andrew