2014 is a difficult year for Montreal Expos fans. It’s the 20th anniversary of the strike that hurt baseball in Montreal, and the 10th anniversary of the year the team left the city for Washington, DC. But it doesn’t mean that the Expos aren’t still beloved by people across the country, and the rumours that Major League Baseball will come back to the city aren't going anywhere.
I grew up on the Montreal Expos. To this day I still find it strange to watch baseball on television without French commentary. The Expos logo factored heavily in my childhood wardrobe and I could find my way to the stadium on the Metro long before I could find the way to my hometown team on the subway. So when I saw the book Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos by Jonah Keri, I knew it was going to be a grand slam.
Every so often a new book about the Expos comes out and I always buy them for my dad. But this is the first book I have found that expertly covers the history of the ball club from beginning to end. Keri grew up in Montreal so in addition to adding the perspective of a lifelong fan, he seems to have interviewed everyone he could find ever attached to the club, including the people responsible for some of our more negative memories. Players, owners, politicians, fans, all of their perspectives are brought to the book.
I was born after the Expos came to Montreal so most of the first half of the book was all new information to me and filled in the stories my dad told me of the team growing up. But the second half was a beautiful stroll down memory lane. My husband sat on the couch next to me as I yelled out names (“Andres Galaraga!”, “Delino DeShields!”) and we reminisced of many great baseball memories.
There are so many great stories directly from the players, the anecdotes are the strength of this book. I also loved the inclusion of the drawings from Montreal editorial cartoonist Aislin and extras like the collection of French baseball terms. I only wish there had been more photographs than what were included, I feel as though there was so much more that needed to be in pictures.
This book is a love letter to a team and to a city and anyone interested in baseball will appreciate it. You don’t have to be an Expos kid like me to enjoy the book, it’s also about the business of sport, what goes on off the field to bring it to us, and the dedication of those who watch. Five out of five stars to this book, not just for the memories, but also for the accomplishment of putting the whole story of the Expos to paper.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada. The opinions expressed above are purely my own.