TEAM EFFORT: New book on 1979 Expos got a strong start from the late Norm King, late help from dedicated relief corps

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Norm King beloved baseball a lot he selected an Ottawa Lynx sport for a primary date together with his future spouse, Lucile McGregor.

By no means thoughts a superb restaurant within the Byward Market. Or a ship cruise alongside the Rideau Canal. Or among the evening life on Elgin St. What higher technique to impress a girl than taking her to see the triple-A affiliate of King’s beloved Montreal Expos? Or, so he thought.

Drawback was it was 1993, the inaugural season for the Lynx, and it was the most well liked ticket on the town.

“I used to be not, in any means, form or kind, a baseball fan,” McGregor recalled to buddies lately. “It ended up the sport was bought out, so we did one thing else.”
King’s foible apart, now virtually 30 years later, the non-baseball fan has collaborated with others to ensure her late husband’s dream of writing a e book on the 1979 Expos has lastly been revealed.


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The e book — 1979 The Expos First Nice Season — is now accessible after all the undertaking got here to a halt with King’s sudden passing on July 31, 2018.

Each Canadian baseball fan over the age of 60 can recall the ’79 Expos, residing day-to-day on edge listening to Dave and Duke — Van Horne and Snider — because the Expos put collectively their first profitable season and took the pennant race within the Nationwide League East to the ultimate weekend.

After 10 consecutive shedding seasons, that cute ’79 bunch gained 95 video games, together with a 56-25 report at Olympic Stadium, to return up simply two video games shy of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With Dick Williams on the controls within the dugout, Larry Parrish, Andre Dawson, Gary Carter and Ellis Valentine mixed to his 98 residence runs, ‘LP’ the chief with 30.
Invoice Lee led all beginning pitchers with 16 wins whereas Dan Schatzeder, Ross Grimsley, David Palmer and Rudy Might every gained 10. Ace Steve Rogers chipped in with 13 whereas pitching an unbelievable 248.2 innings.


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That membership additionally had a bunch of unheralded backups known as the ‘Bus Squad,’ headed by pinch-hitter Tommy Hutton with Duffy Dyer, Ken Macha and Jerry White.

The Expos additionally introduced again Rusty Staub in July from Detroit. There was Rodney Scott stealing the second base job from Dave Money.

It was additionally the yr the Expos turned to Muppets creator Jim Henson to create the beloved Youppi! to interchange Suki, the unique Expos mascot with the 2 antennae protruding of his head.

And who can overlook Fernand Lapierre on the organ?

It simply so occurred that former Ottawa Journal sportswriter Danny Gallagher, himself an creator of a number of books on the Expos, learn King’s obituary within the Ottawa Citizen the place it mentioned he had been engaged on a e book on the 1979 Expos.


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Gallagher contacted King’s widow and discovered that a few of her husband’s colleagues with SABR (Society for American Baseball Analysis) had taken over the e book undertaking with the intention of finishing it and having it revealed by McFarland and Co. in Jefferson, N.C.

However regardless of the most effective efforts of many, the undertaking stalled, seemingly by no means to be revealed.

That’s when Gallagher’s persistence with King’s widow and editor Leslie Hoffmeister lastly paid off with approval final April for Gallagher to place the ending touches on the e book.

His motive was merely to protect King’s legacy and keenness for the ball membership.

With the settlement, the edited manuscript was handed on to Gallagher, who did additional modifying of his personal after which added his personal touches. A passionate fan of the Expos and baseball usually in addition to an impressive senior participant in Sudbury and Ottawa within the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s, Gallagher set his personal deadline of this yr’s MLB post-season and, with the help of Saskatoon Star-Phoenix editor and author Don Rice, the 2 delivered proper on time.


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The e book is now accessible on Amazon.

“Don was a passionate Expos fan and volunteered out of the blue to assist out,” mentioned Gallagher. “He was additionally wonderful at fact-checking on prime of the modifying and rewrites.

“And I ought to say that Norm, earlier than he died, had additionally achieved a prolific job of writing untold numbers of Expos profiles for an SABR bio undertaking sequence.

“You recognize, Norm had a limp proper hand from beginning however it certain didn’t trouble him when it got here to banging out copy on his laptop.”

King, like so many Canadian baseball followers of their 60s and 70s, dreaded the day the Expos left Canada for Washington in 2004.

Like so many true Expos followers, he might simply recall his first journey to see them play at Jarry Park, as a 12-year-old on Might 1, 1969, a uncommon win by the Expos that season.


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“It was fairly a thrill going to that sport,” King instructed Gallagher in 2015. “Donn Clendenon acquired an intentional stroll to load the bases within the backside of the ninth and Coco Laboy hit a sac fly to attain Ron Model, who was pinch-running for Rusty Staub.”
His widow vividly recollects the day in 1997, whereas on a go to to Manhattan, the pair came across Staub’s Steakhouse on fifth Avenue.

By some means imagining Le Grande Orange (as Montreal media dubbed him), would possibly truly be on the premises, King walked in and requested a waitress if he might meet the native icon.
Moments later, Staub walked out from a personal room within the again and spent 5 minutes … virtually lowering King to his 12-year-old self from again in 1969.

“Norm got here again to the entrance door the place I used to be and he was so excited,” McGregor recalled. “He mentioned: ‘I met Rusty Staub, I met Rusty Staub.’

“We weren’t dressed to eat on the steakhouse with our baseball caps and what we had been sporting, so we ate subsequent door at a McDonald’s. It’s a shaggy dog story.”

King was born in Glacé Bay, N.S., moved to Halifax at age three and Montreal by the point he was eight.

In grownup life, he labored in Edmonton as a public servant earlier than making his technique to Ottawa to work within the public service.

However that magical time in his youth in Montreal by no means left him.



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