Author Danny Gallagher explores how 1981 team came close to history
The history of the Montreal Expos is filled with hope, triumph and heartbreak. In the 35 years that the Expos called Montreal home, they only made the playoffs once, in 1981. In Blue Monday: The Expos, the Dodgers, and the Home Run That Changed Everything, author Danny Gallagher tells the story of one of the most infamous days in Canadian baseball history, a moment that set the course of the Expos franchise for years to come.
On Monday, Oct. 19, 1981, in the final game of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), Expos pitcher Steve Rogers gave up a ninth-inning home-run to Los Angeles Dodgers centre fielder Rick Monday, effectively winning the game and the NLCS. For Expos fans, this game, and that home run, is known as “Blue Monday.” The Expos franchise didn’t return to the playoffs until 2012, when they were the Washington Nationals.
For someone who wasn’t around to see that game in 1981, the term “Blue Monday” means almost nothing. But in his book, Gallagher portrays the emotion fans felt that day, seeing a heartbreak for the Expos and Canadian baseball.
The book starts during the 1977 off-season, when the Expos came very close to signing future baseball Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Jim “Catfish” Hunter. Gallagher traces the path of the Expos from that off-season, and explains how the 1978-80 Expos teams came up short making the playoffs. Reading how close the Expos came to qualifying every year only amplifies the heartbreak that unfolded on that October day.
Gallagher interviewed Expos players such as Rogers and third baseman Larry Parrish, as well as former owner Charles Bronfman. He tells the story through their voices, and thus provides an in-depth look that peaks the interest of any baseball fan, not just of the Expos. Blue Monday showcases how a baseball team builds itself, through the drafting and development of young stars such as future Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Tim Raines. You see how management impacts a team, and the decisions that can make or break them.
Blue Monday is a triumph in preserving the history of the Expos, and tells the story of how a team muddled in mediocrity for the vast majority of its history came inches away from baseball glory. Gallagher maintains that, if Montreal beat Los Angeles, the eventual 1981 World Series champions, they would have beaten the New York Yankees in the World Series. Any baseball fan should add this to their book collection.
Main photo courtesy of Danny Gallagher.