“It’s a really slow and boring game, but let’s go anyway,” my Dad suggested in the first season (1969) that the Montreal Expos entered the American baseball league. Dad added, “we can get ourselves a chien-chaud (hot dog) and a few Labatts (beer); I’ll doze off and you can wake me up when it’s over”.
Dad loved sports. He had played professional football after the airforce and he was an avid skier and golfer as well. Baseball was not his cup of tea but joking around with me about baseball gave him a kick.
Dad knew no French at all (ok, he knew 30 words) but he knew that I loved French. He knew how interested I was in what words would be used to translate the various roles in baseball, and how the PA announcer would (mis) pronounce different names.
At Stade Parc Jarry (Jarry Park) he parked his Pontiac, lite up yet another Export A, and we tried to make our way to the seats. Dad was hard of hearing and the attendants who gave directions at Jarry spoke only French. Dad kept asking me ‘what did he say”? I laughed at that; he didn’t. “What a sick sense of humour you have, boy”.
A few things stand out in my memory from that game. First and foremost, I ate 3 hot dogs, chips (frites), popcorn and ice cream. Another memory: the the PA announced the name of the next batter: “l’arret-court, the short stop, John Bocabellllllllllllllla.” I was ecstatic. The French word for short stop and the Bocabella name dragged out.
Later on in the game, a batter came up whose family had originally come from Quebec, although he himself was playing for an American team (LA Dodgers) , having been born and bred in the US. His name was James Kenneth LeFebvre. The announcer said “Second base, deuxieme base, Jim Le-Feeber, Jacques LeFebvre”. The crowd went wild.
On the way home, Dad asked me if I wanted to drop into the Dairy Queen for a sundae. Of course, he knew that I had eaten like a pig. After he asked me that question, he laughed for a long time, while smoking yet another Export A.
When we got out of the car Dad said, “Jesus what a f-cking back ache I have. I prefer watching boxing from bed, to be honest.”
Oh how I miss him.