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 CHAMPIONS/RANGS

1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
 Expos - - - - - - - - - 6e
 Provinciale Québec T-Rivières Plessisville Plessisville Québec Drummondville Granby Lachine Granby Québec
 Cantons-de-l'Est Acton Vale Acton Vale Acton Vale Acton Vale Drummondville          
 Saguenay Chicoutimi Alma Chicoutimi Alma Arvida Chicoutimi Kénogami Jonquière Arvida Chicoutimi
 

Une décennie en deux temps. D'abord, la fin de l'époque des Royaux, en 1960. Puis l'arrivée, en 1969, des Expos de Montréal au parc Jarry. Entre les deux événements, le baseball amateur a connu des belles années, surtout en région, avec des ligues dans les Cantons-de-l'Est, au Saguenay et un circuit provincial avec de fortes assises dans le centre du Québec.

 EXTRAIT DU LIVRE DE BILL YOUNG ET DANNY GALLAGHER
Remembering the Montreal Expos

In this excerpt drawn from the Introduction to Remembering the Montreal Expos by Danny Gallagher and Bill Young, author Young takes a quick look back at the team we called “Nos Amours”.

Opening Day! Still wet behind the ears, the newly minted Montreal Expos had arrived. On April 8, 1969, the Expos, in powder-blue uniforms and carnival casquettes, carried the City of Montreal into New York's Shea Stadium, the first major league team ever to represent a city from outside the United States.

The players barely knew one another. A mix of draft choices, trades, and minor leaguers, all were hoping to give their careers another boost. Arthur Daley of the New York Times called the team, “a jerry built expansion club in a bilingual city where almost everyone speaks French except the ball players.”

Manager Gene Mauch used fifteen players in the game. Mudcat Grant was the starting pitcher, with John Bateman behind the plate. Bob Bailey, Gary Sutherland, Coco Laboy and Maury Wills held down the inner diamond, while Rusty Staub, Don Hahn and Mack Jones patrolled the outfield. No one was wearing a nametag, but well they might have.

Remarkably, the Expos walked off winners, topping the home-side New York Metropolitans in an 11-10 thriller. The most unlikely event of the day was that the first homerun in Expos’ history was hit by Dan McGinn, a pitcher! He had come into the game in the second inning, in relief of Grant. It was his only at-bat.

The defeat extended the Mets’ streak of consecutive Opening Day losses to eight. Arthur Daley observed that for the New York side this was, “a pretty dreadful start of what was supposed to be their most promising and productive season.” In Montreal, fans were ecstatic.

A week later, on a beautiful sunny April 14 that followed a late-season snowstorm, at the bandbox that was Parc Jarry and before a sold-out house rampant with joy, the Expos opened at home. Even though volunteers were still shovelling snow out of the stands right up to game time, and general manager Jim Fanning was wrestling with temporary folding chairs behind home plate, and the grounds crew could barely fashion a playing surface from terrain that had effectively become a swamp (“a flooded pasture” said the Washington Post) not one of the 29,184 souls present could find fault with anything.  Major league baseball had come to Montreal.

Drawing on effectively the same starting line-up as in New York – the one exception had Don Bosch in centre-field - the Expos once again demonstrated a dramatic sense of the moment, coming from behind to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in an 8-7 nail biter. Mack Jones was the hitting star that day, and the rolling ovations he received each time he returned to his post in front of the left field bleachers inspired writer, Ted Blackman, to christen that corner of Jarry Park, Jonesville, a sobriquet that stuck and which still brings back fond memories today.

A new era in the story of baseball, a new chapter in the history of Montreal, had been well and truly launched. “Ah, but it was a beautiful day in La Belle Province today as baseball took on another lover,” concluded Bob Addie of the Washington Post. “The romance should last if the playing field does”.

In 1969, Montreal was an uncharted world for major league baseball. Beautiful, sophisticated, fun loving, cosmopolitan, confident, hospitable, it was a city that breathed life from its every pore. Day and night, Montreal was different from the other major league cities; it was alive! An overwhelmed Bob Addie could only add, “She’s lusty, she’s bawdy and she loves sports!”

And the fans! Who could ignore the delirious fanatics crowding Parc Jarry, game after game in the early 1970s? When the team moved over to cavernous Olympic Stadium in 1977, the fans just kept on coming. Noisy, passionate, they liked to win - and once the early frustrations associated with expansion had been sorted through, more often than not, win is precisely what their favourites did. For a period of several years extending into the mid-eighties, the Expos were among the very best in the game. In Montreal during those years, baseball was the summer pastime; Olympic Stadium was the place to be.

The list of outstanding ball players who wore Expos’ colours – past, present and future – is mind-boggling. There was Rusty Staub, Bob Bailey, Ken Singleton, Mike Jorgensen, Bill Stoneman, Claude Raymond, and John Boccabella from the days at Jarry; and Steve Rogers, Larry Parrish, Andre Dawson, Warren Cromartie, Tim Raines, Woodie Fryman, Ross Grimsley, Hall-of-Fame catcher Gary Carter, Tim Wallach, Bill Gullickson, Scott Sanderson, Charlie Lea and Al Oliver at the Big O. Then, from later teams came Andres Galarraga, Marquis Grissom, Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Dennis Martinez and Pedro Martinez, Cliff Floyd, Rondell White, Orlando Cabrera, Michael Barrett, Brian Schneider, Jose Vidro, and last – and perhaps the greatest of them all – Vladimir Guerrero. And this was just a beginning. 

Many consider that the 1994 version of the Expos was their greatest team ever. This group was on a path to the post-season and a World Series, with a chance to win it all, when a mid-August work stoppage brought an end to everything, killing both the season and the ultimate dream. The team, and its fans, never recovered.

     *     *     *

We had the Expos for thirty-six seasons, not nearly enough time. Not nearly enough…

But even though the team may have abandoned our playing fields, they will never leave our hearts. As long as there are some of us still around to harvest and share our golden memories, to keep alive every precious moment, the Expos that we knew and loved will continue to thrive. In fact, they might even get better!

And who knows, perhaps somewhere, in baseball’s Elysian Fields, a new edition of the Expos is already beginning to take shape, preparing to march toward our city and start the whole thing all over again. It has happened before. Just look at Washington!

However, for the moment, it is sufficient to pause and remember ‘Nos Amours’, our Montreal Expos, our young men, forever.

However, for the moment, it is sufficient to pause and remember ‘Nos Amours’, our Montreal Expos, our young men, forever.

 

 1880-69 BASEBALL IN MONTRÉAL / Article: Bill Brown
Le Stade Delorimier, domicile des Royaux de Montréal, ici photographié en 1929. Collection SH du Marigot.
With a little help from our friends

Note: This article also relates to baseball roots in Quebec

Late in 2005 spring, on a sunny afternoon, a few of us from Encore Baseball Montreal sat down with Gerry Snyder, the former city councillor who did so much to bring the Expos to Montreal. Snyder, now in his eighties, lives in an apartment in Montreal's West Island. He was more than happy to tell us about his role in bringing Major League Baseball to the city. His stories are part of Quebec sports history and he tells them as if they happened yesterday.

Speaking with him that afternoon made me realize that the beginning of the Expos had something in common with the birth of the Montreal Royals, the old Brooklyn Dodgers farm team. In both cases, the franchises were handed to the city despite lukewarm public support. Many Iocal businesspeople and politicians-like Snyder-worked hard to make it happen. But neither venture would have succeeded without help from outside. There was never a great public outcry for baseball in Montreal. So how did the city get its baseball teams?

Montreal was on a roll in the late 1960's, thanks largely to Expo 67. When Snyder approached the National League on behalf of Mayor Jean Drapeau the response was very positive. It wasn't a cinch, Snyder had to sell a city that didn't have a ballpark, but the National League liked the idea of expanding to Montreal. The head of the expansion committee was Dodger owner Walter O'Malley. He knew the city well, having made a lot of money there with the Royals. O'Malley favoured Montreal, and his was the loudest voice at the table.

So the people of Montreal had a Major League baseball team before they even knew they wanted one, and they only jumped on the bandwagon after the team arrived. The response, however, was immediate and heartfelt. The Expos were Nos Amours right from the start.

The Royals had a much tougher time winning fans. In fact, it took a few tries just to get the city interested in professional baseball. Although the sport was well established in the United States by the late nineteenth century, and was growing quickly in Ontario, it was a minor pastime in Montreal. City officials actually banned it from parks because of the danger of a bystander being hit by a ball. Private clubs were formed so the game could be played without risk of public beanings.

In the late 1880's the International League had eight teams, three of them Canadian: Toronto, Hamilton, and London. Many owners believed that Montreal, Canada's largest city, should have a team as well. This was put to the test in1890 when the struggling Buffalo Bisons moved to the city. The club played a few games at the Shamrock Lacrosse Grounds (across from where the Montreal Forum would later be built) but few fans turned out.

The Hamilton franchise arrived soon after, also because of business problems. They too played in near anonymity and left town in a hurry. Here's what one newspaper commentator had to say about it: "Why should Montreal be called upon to father every insolvent aggregation of peripatetic ball-tossers that can find nowhere else to take them in?"

But not everyone gave up on professional baseball. Joe Page, an American working for Canadian Pacific Railways in Montreal continued to lobby for a team. With the help of a New England sorts promoter, William H. Rowe, Page convinced the International League to transfer the Rochester Jingoes to Montreal in 1897.

The club actually won the pennant the very next year, but baseball was still a tough sell in Montreal. The team had mixed results over the next few seasons, on the field and at the box office. The Royals' owner, Frank Farrell, was soon tired of losing money. (Farrell also owned the New York Highlanders who would later become the Yankees.) He sent George Tweedy Stallings to Montreal in 1908 to find someone to take the team off his hands.

Stallings was a respected baseball man who had been a manager in the International League. He put together an ownership team led by Montreal businessman Sam Lichtenhein (a future owner of the Montreal Wanderers who would help launch the National Hockey League). Lichtenhein turned the Shamrock Grounds into a ballpark. The stands burnt down twice over the years and Lichtenhein re-built them.

The team bumped along, having good years and bad, until many players left to fight in the First World War. By that time, Lichtenhein was fed up and pulled the plug. Those who had come to love baseball were no doubt disappointed, but they weren't numerous enough to convince the owner to tough it out.

So professional baseball had failed again in Montreal, and again it took an outsider to revive it. George Stallings came back to Montreal in 1927 with a plan to get the city back into the International League. Stallings' reputation was even greater now. As a Major League manager, he had earned the nickname "Miracle Man" for leading the 1914 Boston Braves to a World Series victory after being in last place in mid-season.

Stallings was a Southern plantation owner, known as Gentleman George because he wore a suit and stylish hat in the dugout. He approached Louis Athanase David, a prominent Montreal lawyer and politician, and businessman Ernest Savard, and the three landed a franchise in the International League. They built a ballpark at the corner of Ontario and Delorimier, a site Stallings had spotted years before.

Construction of the stadium began in January 1928, about five months before the home opener. Temperatures reached minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit but workers managed to break ground and pour concrete. As spring approached, dozens of curious Montrealers came to watch the groundskeepers brave the snow and rain to dump load after load of sand onto the soggy turf. The sand was packed down with rollers pulled by horses.

Like most ballparks of the day, Delorimier Stadium had to conform to the space available; in this case, a rectangular city block. The right field fence was only 293 feet from home plate and a lot of baseballs ended up on Parthenais Street. In fact, when a powerful left-handed hitter really got hold of one, it occasionally landed on the roof of the Grover Knit-to-Fit factory across the street. A ball hit to centre field, however, would have to travel more than 440 feet to clear the fence. Today's retro was yesterday's reality.

The return of professional baseball to Montreal in May of 1928 was celebrated with a parade and a festive opening ceremony. A capacity crowd of 25,000 fans and local VIP's jammed the park to watch the Royals beat the Reading Keystones 7-4. Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis called Delorimier Stadium the best minor league facility in baseball; better, he said, than some Major League parks. So pro ball was back in Montreal even though the city was unproven as a baseball town.

The Royals eventually won the hearts of fans and earned a place in the city's sports pages, but it took time. The arrival of the legendary Frank "Shag" Shaughnessy helped. As the Royals' manager and general manager, he installed lights at Delorimier Stadium and led the team to a pennant in 1935. But the club's future in Montreal wasn't guaranteed until it signed on with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938. Over the next couple of decades Montreal baseball fans were entertained by players such as Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Don Newcombe, Don Drysdale, Tommy Lasorda, and Roberto Clemente.

The team was a great success, winning three Junior World Series titles and often leading the league in attendance. Things changed for good after the 1957 season, however, when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. Soon the parent club was sending its best prospects to the Spokane Indians, a farm team closer to home, and fans in Montreal became bored with the less competitive Royals. When the team folded in 1960, many felt the city would soon get a Major League franchise. When the Expos left last year there was no such consolation. Where do you go after you've already had a Major League team?

Here's an idea. Miles Wolff, the commissioner of the Can-Am League, and owner of the Quebec Capitales, would like to expand to Montreal and Ottawa. Wolff is a former owner of the Durham Bulls and a founder of Baseball America. He was named one of the best owners in baseball by ESPN. Total Baseball, a respected baseball encyclopaedia, considers him to be the 79th most important person in baseball history. Wolff has had great success attracting people to his cozy ballpark in Quebec City. But his team is the only Canadian entry and he'd like to put more Can in the Can-Am League.

Would an independent team of roughly AA calibre succeed in Montreal? Frankly, I doubt it. But if the history of baseball in Montreal is any indication, Wolff shouldn't listen to me. He can't afford to wait for the locals to make it happen. Certainly there are many people in the city who would work extremely hard to bring professional baseball back to Montreal. But we'll need a little help from outside. Another Joe Page, George Stallings, or Walter O'Malley, to work with the Gerry Snyders of today. Maybe Miles Wolff is just the man to get the ball rolling.

 

Québécois dans MLB
 P  Claude Raymond (1959, 1961-71)
 P  Georges Maranda (1960, 1962)
 P  Ron Piché (1960-62, 1965-66)
 P   Tim Harkness (1961-64)
 P  Pete Ward (1961-70)
 P  Raymond Daviault (1962)
 P  Dick Lines (1966-67)
 
Du Québec à MLB
Ed Acosta (1969, Québec)
Norm Angelini (1968-69 Drum.)
Mike Brumley (1969 Sherbrooke)
 P  Raymond Daviault (1965 Sherbrooke)
Art Ditmar (1964 Jonquière)
Pepe Frias (1968-69 Thetford Mines)
Ruben Gomez (Saguenay)
Wayne Granger (1963 Jonquière, 1964 Port-Alfred)
Lee Gregory (1969-70 Drum.)
 P  Tim Harkness (1970 Sherbrooke)
Jim Magnuson (???? Drum.)
Felix Mantilla (1969 Sherbrooke)
Hector Martinez (1969 TR)
Nick Testa (1965-67 Granby, 1968 Sher., 1969-70 Trois-Rivières)
 
Des Royaux à MLB
Joe Altobelli (1960)
Babe Birrer (1958-60)
Joe Caffie (1960)
Chico Carrasquel (1960)
Nelson Chittum (1960)
Choo Choo Coleman (1960)
Mike Goliat (1959-60)
Rod Graber (1960)
Connie Grob (1957-60)
 P  Bill Harris (1954-60)
Dave Hoskins (1960)
Willard Hunter (1960)
Bill Kunkel (1960)
 P  Tommy Lasorda HOF (1950-55, 58-60)
Bob Lennon (1958-60)
 P  Ralph Mauriello (1959-60)
Ron Perranoski (1960)
Curt Roberts (1959-60)
Dick Scott (1960)
Jerry Snyder (1960)
 P  Dick Teed (1950, 55, 58-60)
Rene Valdez (1957-60)
Ray Webster (1960)
Gordie Windhorn (1960)
 
Photos / Pictures
1960. Le Québécois Georges Maranda avec les Giants de San Francisco
1960. Stade de baseball de Granby
1961. Le Québécois Georges Maranda avec les Giants de San Francisco
1962. Le Québécois Raymond Daviault, des Mets de New York
1963 ou 1964. Tim Harkness avec les Mets de New York
1967 à 1969. Ed Charles, un ex des Braves de Québec, avec les Mets de New York
 
Sources
Disorganized Baseball: The Provincial League from Laroque to the Expos
Merritt Clifton( 1982)
Pro Baseball in Montreal (1928-1960)
Robert Verner (1995)
Diamonds of the North
William Humber (1995)
Les fabuleux Royaux. Les débuts glorieux du baseball à Montréal
William Brown( 1996)
Les Royaux de Montréal depuis 1890
Gérard Gosselin (1948)
De Jackie Robinson à Felipe Alou
Danny Gallagher (1998)
Histoire illustrée du baseball rural en Mauricie (1940-1990)
Danny Gallagher (1998)
Le clergé québécois et le sport (1930-1960)
Jean Harvey (1988)
Basebal's Canadian-American League
David Pietrusza (1990)
100 ans de baseball à Trois-Rivières
Jean-Marc Paradis (1989)