On Friday, when Derek Aucoin hit a homerun into the stands on National Bank Court and Rodger Brulotte called it, for a quick second, it felt a lot like the mythical former home of the Montréal Expos: Jarry Stadium.
Before the Expos headed to Olympic Stadium, they played their home games on Rue Faillon, which is now Rue Gary-Carter. The change happened in May 2013, when the street was renamed in honour of the Expos’ star catcher—a nod that still makes Rodger Brulotte smile.
“It meant a lot when Tennis Canada agreed to change the street along Parc Jarry to Rue Gary-Carter,” said Brulotte. “In a sense, it’s there forever.”
Rodger Brulotte was on hand to commentate the friendly baseball game between ATP players (Reilly Opelka and Frances Tiafoe of the US and Brayden Schnur of Canada) and former Expos including Aucoin and Claude Raymond organized by Tennis Canada as part of the Milk Family Weekend.
Brulotte was very happy to return to the place that had such an impact on the history of the Expos.
“The heart of the Expos isn’t at Olympic Stadium,” said the 70-year-old. “It’s at Parc Jarry.”
Aucoin, a former MLB pitcher who signed with the Expos in 1989 and is now at the helm of a baseball show on 98,5 fm, jumped at the chance to take part in an activity that would bring baseball and tennis together in Montréal.
“It’s a natural fit,” affirmed Aucoin. “It’s funny because I saw tennis players versus soccer players or hockey players from the Montréal Canadiens and always said to myself that it would be great to have a baseball game, too. So when we got the call, I said ‘yes’ right away.”
Because of time and location constraints, it wasn’t a real match, but pitchers and batters faced off until Aucoin hit the homerun that led his team to victory.
“I’ve done a lot of crazy things in baseball in my life but I never thought I’d play a match here, with tennis players,” laughed Aucoin. “I had an interesting idea inspired by the game that American kids play in their yards—real backyard baseball. I’m not surprised that so many American tennis players came out today because they’re familiar with the game. It’s a great concept that I use often at my baseball training camps. The kids love it.”
Until the white and red baseball makes its return to Montréal, the game’s most nostalgic fans can come by Rue Gary-Carter to watch its kindred spirit: the bright yellow ball.