Montreal Expos Team Picture 1978 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for December 10, 2017

 

IMG_1416I really do miss the Expos. I miss having a team where the announcers are speaking French. I miss the distinctly foreign city of Montreal having a chance to host the World Series.

Yeah, I know Toronto is also not an American city, but it doesn’t FEEL foreign. They speak English there, it kind of feels like a cleaner Chicago.

But Montreal. My family lived in Switzerland for a few years when I was a kid. We lived in a French speaking town just outside of Geneva. I can tell you that Montreal felt more Swiss than it felt American.

This card portrays the 1977 team, just as the club was getting interesting. They had a Hall of Fame manager in Dick Williams. A Hall of Fame catcher in Gary Carter. They had a Hall of Fame centerfielder in Andre Dawson, who won the 1977 Rookie of the Year. And a Hall of Famer first baseman with Tony Perez. They also had classic Montreal Expos like Ellis Valentine and Steve Rogers and Warren Cromartie and Larry Parrish.

It was also the first year the Expos played in Stade Olympique. Now before that place was considered to be an eye sore and a disgrace and all the wonderful things people say about it NOW, remember what it was in 1977 and in 1978.

THAT’S WHERE BRUCE JENNER WON HIS MEDALS!

Now for those of you too young to remember Bruce Jenner as anyone but a Kardashian fixture and now Caitlyn Jenner, there was a point where he was the biggest American athlete superstar around. He was on every box of Wheaties and on any TV show you could point to.

The Expos were playing on HALLOWED GROUND!

Montreal went 75-87 in 1977 but clearly were building something good. Their record in 1978 was eerily similar, 76-86. But they became true contenders in the years following.

I miss those uniforms, I miss those hats, hell in a way I even miss the stadium. It would have been cool to see it host the Olympics AND a World Series.

I hope baseball comes back to Montreal. The French flavor is needed.

Ellis Valentine 1980 Kellogg’s 3-D Super Stars Card – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for February 14, 2017

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Most of the time, the order of these cards are 100% chance. I pull out the card from the shoebox. I see who it is and I begin typing 800 to 1,000 words like a damn maniac.

This one, I admit, I held off on. It is corny but how could I not post about Ellis Valentine on Valentine’s day?

I will tell you how. I could have pulled Bobby Valentine’s card!

Lest we forget, for about three seasons, Ellis Valentine was a superstar. He had power. He had speed. He hit for a solid average and OPS and had a damn cannon for an arm.

Drafted by the Expos from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, Valentine shot up through the system and found himself on a team with future Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and eventually Tim Raines and managed by Hall of Famer Dick Williams. He shone right away and became a fan favorite. Matched with Warren Cromartie and Andre Dawson, they created one of the best outfields in the game.

He used the All Star Game as a showcase for his throwing arm and was a big part of the 1979 squad that nearly put the Expos into the playoffs. He even appeared in an episode of Fantasy Island.

But a shattered cheek bone from a pitch in 1980 slowed him down. He had a fine season in limited time that year but he got off to a poor start in 1981.

He missed the post season party in Montreal that year as he was traded to the dreadful Mets. It was a horrible fit for him. His numbers dipped again and in 1982, he clashed with manager George Bamberger. When he called the Mets “The worst organization in baseball”, you could imagine that it did not go over well with the front office.

He made cameos with the Angels and Rangers before injuries and off field issues ended his career in 1985.

In his retirement, he has been a drug counselor, helping young people avoid some of the pitfalls he hit in life. Always welcomed back in Montreal, Valentine has supported the return of baseball to Quebec all the while being involved with the Rangers organization.

I had the great pleasure of having Mr. Valentine on my podcast as a guest. He was funny, forthright, did not hold back and was very generous with his time and his memories.

He was one of my favorite players as a kid. He remains so today.

Enjoy his appearances on the Sully Baseball Daily Podcast on this Valentine’s Day.


Sully Baseball Podcast Rewind – February 15, 2014

FantasyIsland

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On February 15, 2014, I had part 2 of my conversation with Ellis Valentine where we talked about his time with the Mets and his appearance with on Fantasy Island.

Enjoy this Podcast Rewind

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 15, 2014