Sports

ESPN's Jonah Keri talks Expos in Pembroke

By Ryan Paulsen, The Daily Observer

Ryan Paulsen / Daily Observer

Jonah Keri, ESPN baseball analyst and New York Time bestselling author, right, discusses the storied past and surprisingly (if cautiously) hopeful future for the Montreal Expos at the Pembroke Knights of Columbus Hall on Monday night, April 6. The event was part of the Algonquin College speakers' series and one of only a handful of Canadian stops of Keri's tour promoting his new book on the franchise, Up Up and Away.

Ryan Paulsen / Daily Observer Jonah Keri, ESPN baseball analyst and New York Time bestselling author, right, discusses the storied past and surprisingly (if cautiously) hopeful future for the Montreal Expos at the Pembroke Knights of Columbus Hall on Monday night, April 6. The event was part of the Algonquin College speakers' series and one of only a handful of Canadian stops of Keri's tour promoting his new book on the franchise, Up Up and Away.

Local baseball fans got a chance to relive the glory days of the storied but ill-fated Montreal Expos franchise last Monday when ESPN baseball analyst and New York Time bestselling author Jonah Keri arrived at the Pembroke Knights of Columbus Hall as part of the Algonquin College speakers' series.

Mildly reminiscent of the old Sesame Street game "one of these things is not like the other," the other two stops on the Canadian-born, American-based author and journalist are Montreal and Toronto.

"We're always on the lookout for interesting speakers," explains Algonquin College community and student affairs manager Jamie Bramburger. "In this case, I happened to read [Jonah Kerry's] new book over the winter months, I really, really enjoyed it, so I reached out to him on Twitter and asked if he was coming to Canada to promote his new book. He said 'yes, I'll be in Toronto and Montreal,' and that started a conversation and we were able to convince him to come to Pembroke and be part of our speakers' series."

Keri's latest book, Up, Up and Away chronicles the people and events that made the Montreal Expos the kind of franchise that continues to have fans more than a decade after the team was renamed the Nationals and moved to Washington, D.C. For Keri, it's the people themselves, and their heartfelt stories, that make the team what it is, and made writing the book such an adventure.

"I just think that any franchise that lasts 36 years," he says, "which is a reasonable amount of time, there are going to be a lot of memories and a lot of different perspectives, and I find them all tremendous."

Although he did get to interview some of the people who were on the field while he was in the stands, Keri says that the great stories can come from just about anywhere in a book like this.

"I just think that, although obviously it certainly matters if they're from your formative years, but anybody who's willing to tell the story from the heart, it can be affecting, whether or not it's a personal hero."

One of the biggest, if understandably muted, revelations of the evening was Keri's assertion that, in his opinion, the question of a possible return of Major League Baseball to Montreal has shifted from one of "if" to one closer to "when".

Although a Red Sox fan at his heart, Bramburger would still love to see the game return to Canada's second largest city.

"I hope it happens," he says, "but certainly a lot of work still has to be done. I think it would be great for Canada to have a second baseball franchise again."

For Husky Levasseur, long-time baseball fan, the whole evening was an exercise in nostalgia.

"It brings back a lot of memories," he says. "I used to go down to Jerry Park back in 1968 when it all started."

Levasseur is also on board with any talk of resurrecting Montreal pro ball, although he didn't think he'd see the day.

"I'm astonished. I would like to see it happen, definitely."

ryan.paulsen@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @PRyanPaulsen


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