This past Canada Day weekend (2013), I decided to visit an old friend, Pat McNally. Pat and I go back to the good old days (1960’s and 1970’s). Like many West Islanders, Pat drifted westward during the late 1970’s, in search of the better life. Like most “boomers,” we got good jobs, married, had our families and are now enjoying our retirement years. Pat spent numerous years in Calgary, Ottawa and is presently living in London, Ontario with his wonderful wife Marguerite. I on the other hand, stayed in the West Island and endured the lunacy years of the Parti Quebecois (1970’s – 1980’s).

After a few beers we started to reminisce about our baseball playing days in Pointe Claire, the good old days of scoffing a few brews watching the Expos from “Jonesville” at Jarry Park, and the “crappy” environment of the Big “O.”

As the beers went down more smoothly, I recalled to Pat how my kids (Leah and Reed) used to be Jim and Maria Fanning’s newspaper carriers (Gazette). Jim and Maria Fanning lived in Pointe Claire during the Late 1980’s and most of the 1990’s. Leah actually was the Fanning’s baby-sitter and Reed used to cut their grass when they went on family vacations. Jeff Coney (MUCSLB Blacksmiths player and umpire) was the next door neighbour of the Fanning’s.

I further recalled how we (our family) used to attend “Gentleman” Jim Fanning’s yearly Christmas parties at his house and how many of the old Expos players were also in attendance. Pat then suggested that we attend the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony which was going to be held in St. Mary’s, Ontario on Saturday, June 29th. We took a road trip from London, Ontario to St. Mary’s (40km).

To my amazement, one of the M.C’s for the new member’s induction ceremony to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame was Jim Fanning! After the ceremony Jim Fanning noticed my Expos baseball jersey. To my astonishment, he and his wife Maria also remembered me! Once we had established that I was really me, we “shot the shit” (for about an hour) about the great old days of the Expos and of his family’s time spent living in the city of Pointe Claire. I was further amazed to learn that they not only remembered me but they also asked how Chris (my late wife), Leah and Reed were doing? What a memory he still has! I re-introduced myself to his children, who are actually young adults now. I learned that his son is lead guitarist in a heavy metal rock band, the “Comets.” What a natural high, an “old fart” like myself, actually being in the presence of such baseball greats. Jim Fanning, being the true classy guy that he is, introduced me personally to Tim Raines (Expos inductee), Rob Ducey (Blue Jays inductee), George Bell (Blue Jays inductee) and Tom Henke (Blue Jays inductee).

What more could a true lover of the sport of baseball ask for? I felt like I had died and gone to baseball heaven. There I was, an “old fart” hobnobbing with the elite of the baseball world! James “Cool Papa” Bell (1903 – 1991), a player in the old American Negro Baseball League, summed up my feelings perfectly: “Because of baseball I smelled the rose of life. I wanted to meet interesting people, to travel and to have nice clothes. Baseball allowed me to do all of these things and most important, it allowed me to become a member of a brotherhood of friendship which will last forever!” 

To all those baseball fans in the “M,” if you’re looking for a great place to visit, try the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary’s, Ontario. It’s well worth the road trip!