Friday, September 10, 2010

Fernand Lapierre Provided the Soundtrack to "Nos Amours"

This article first appeared in the September 2010 edition of Main Street and is reprinted here with permission of the editors. Drop by Main Street Week News to have a look at a great community newspaper.

Remembering "Nos Amours"
Photo by TVOS
The Montreal Expos may have moved on, but for baseball fans in the region, “nos amours” will always hold a special place in our hearts. For twenty years, Pointe-Calumet resident Fernand Lapierre provided the soundtrack to those memories at Jarry Park and the Olympic Stadium as the Montreal Expos organist. While he was not a baseball fan when he took the job, he enjoyed the atmosphere at Jarry Park and his rich, textured organ playing brought the sounds of the game to life.

“I was there from the beginning in 1969, there were maybe four games already played. They talked with me and asked me to start the next day,” Lapierre explained. “I was very excited, it was really something - I could not believe it! They were the talk of the town; everybody was watching what was happening with the Expos.”

“I was not a baseball fan at the time, I was always skiing or swimming on my own, I was not part of a group or a team sport. I did not know anything about baseball, and maybe that is why my style was different music-wise, because I did not know the rules. Jim Fanning (the first General Manager of the Expos) brought me to the organ room and said, there’s the organ, there’s the people, have fun with them.”

Lapierre’s unique style caught the attention of fans and baseball players alike. During a rain delay early in his career with the Expos, Lapierre was informed he would be having a visitor in the organ room. Baseball legend Roberto Clemente wanted to meet him, and the two men quickly became good friends.

“The first year he came to Montreal, during a rain delay, he came upstairs to see me. He wanted to meet the organist, so they showed him where I was,” Lapierre said with a laugh. “We chatted for about an hour because there was no one in the stadium because of the rain. He asked me out for lunch the next day. We went to a restaurant and I felt seven feet tall. Everybody was looking at me - they did not know me but they knew Roberto! He treated me like a brother; he was truly a great friend.”

Lapierre witnessed many great moments in baseball history and one event that stands out for him occurred in 1981, when the greatest MLB players converged on Montreal for the annual All-Star Game.

“It was a good twenty years, I really enjoyed it all,” said Lapierre. “I have many good memories, like the All-Star Game, it was really something to be part of that. I have an All-Star Game ring, like the one they give the players as a souvenir. In my time there, the Expos really treated me well.”

This summer, Expos fans were delighted to see Andre Dawson join Gary Carter in baseball’s Hall of Fame. As the only two players in the Hall inducted as Expos, Lapierre was pleased to hear that Dawson acknowledged the Montreal fans in his speech.

“I am very happy for Andre Dawson,” Lapierre remarked. “He did a good job for us and we met many times when we were doing the Caravan, the tour across Quebec every January. A real good guy, it’s good that he did not forget the club.”

Recently, the Washington Nationals began to embrace their past, organizing a pre-game ceremony to honour Dawson and Carter, and including their names on a new “Ring of Honour” at their stadium. When I mentioned this to Lapierre, his response, accompanied by a hearty laugh, is my favourite answer to any question I have asked in my career.

“They should invite the organist!”

A wonderful idea... Have a great sports day everyone.

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