* Jean Gaudreault of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, has been scoring World Series Games for 35 years. ….
By Danny Gallagher
For 35 years, Jean Gaudreault has been doing what most baseball fans don’t do: score every World Series game.
Even when he was on an extensive tour recently as a horn player with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Gaudreault found time to have Kansas City Royals-San Francisco Giants’ games taped so that he could score them when he had time.
This story goes back to 1953 when Gaudreault was born in Chicoutimi, Que. and became a baseball fan early in his life.
“Mel Stottlemyre was my first hero,’’ Gaudreault said in an interview. “I already liked the Yankees and when he came up, I liked his name, although I had no clue how to pronounce it. The first World Series I remember is the 1964 series between the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals.
“I still remember that Sunday afternoon game when the Yankees scored three quick runs in the top of the first but Mantle was thrown out on the bases to kill the inning. Ken Boyer hit a grand slam later in the game and St. Louis won 4-3. It was a crushing loss for a 10-year-old. Fifty years later, I can’t forgive the Mick.
“The Cards won the Series in 7 and the whole primary school where I went watched Game 7 in the gym. The nuns who ran the school were also big baseball fans and didn’t want to miss it either!’’
Gaudreault attended a lot of Expos’ games at Jarry Park and kept a program in which there was a scorecard. The scorecard was not the official kind but a reduced version. Yet, for him, it was heaven. He made copies of it and to this day, that’s still the format he uses. He was 21 when he scored his first World Series: the 1975 series considered the most memorable in the game’s history.
Because of his love for the Yankees, Gaudreault always rooted for the American League, although if the Montreal Expos had made it, things would have been different but an Expos-Yankees confrontation would have been difficult.
“So in ’75, I rooted for Boston against Cincinnati,’’ Gaudreault said. “For some reason, I like Roger Moret and his 14-3 record. Was it the best World Series ever? 1975 was special but I think the 2001 Arizona-Yankees series, the Randy Johnson-pitching-almost-every-day series was the most amazing of all. If it was a fiction movie, you probably wouldn’t find it credible.’’
Because of Gaudreault’s profession, which he has retained since 1975, keeping score of World Series games isn’t always easy, what, with evening concerts or rehearsals taking place at the same time as the games. Creativity comes into play.
“Years ago, I would simply record them and watch them when I’d get home,’’ said Gaudreault, who also has been the OSM’s personnel director the last two years. “Did that a lot but in order to keep my collection intact and keep my scoring streak going,
I sometimes have to get the play-by-play stats from the Internet and relive and score the game that way … on paper, so to speak! Still a lot of fun. I have been up at all kinds of hours, on different continents, watching and scoring games. This year, not much luck in China. No TV channel was carrying the games.
“Music is my life and has always been. Baseball is a hobby, a passionate hobby. I had dreams of becoming a sportscaster in my teenage years. Did it on school radio for fun. But music won and I don’t regret it. My kids are involved in local baseball where I live. My two daughters played for a while and my 18-year old son still plays. And, no surprise, they also take turn scorekeeping games.’’
Gaudreault said the 1981 playoffs were a very hard pill to swallow. He attended one game of the Philadelphia Phillies-Expos’ series that preceded the Los Angeles Dodgers’ series. He watched the Blue Monday game on TV but had to teach a lesson at 5 o’clock and missed the bottom of the ninth when Jerry White grounded out, giving the Dodgers the NLCS and a berth to the World Series where they beat the Yankees.
Of course, 1994 brings back awful thoughts for Gaudreault.
From the time the strike began Aug. 12 and until the season was cancelled Sept. 14, Gaudreault, like many other fans, hoped every day that there would be good news about an agreement that was never reached.
“It’s hard to measure the frustration that we all had to endure. However, unlike many Québécois, my love of the game was never altered by that strike, or the team leaving 10 years later. Sure, there is a lot of bitterness, but I’m a baseball fan first and an Expos’ fan second.’’
His best Expos’ memories over the years? There are many. No. 1 is Ron LeFlore stealing second and third with a broken wrist in the late innings of game 162 in 1980 to take the stolen bases title away from Pittsburgh’s Omar Moreno, 97-96. Look it up.
And the No. 2 memory might surprise you: the fourth game of a series against the Phillies in September, 2003 on a Thursday afternoon, a sweep that kept Montreal in the race one last time.
He has “worst memories’’ in what he calls the “bonehead category.’’
“No. 1 is Dan Schatzeder calling the umpire over to tell him he couldn’t pitch anymore because of the rain,’’ Gaudreault said. “It was July 1979 in Atlanta, bottom of the fifth, Expos leading, two outs away from a win. The game was rained out and that half-game remained in the way the rest of the season.’’
Then there is Rex Hudler swinging at a 3-0 pitch that was a foot over his head, in extra innings, at home, with the bases loaded and popping out to end the inning.
“The Expos won anyway but it was the worst at-bat in the history of baseball,’’ Gaudreault said.
One more thing.
“My retirement dream plan has always been to go on a trip of all ballparks across America. My wife and I got started on the dream in pre-retirement,’’ Gaudreault joked. “Last August, we went to Cincinnati and Cleveland. Lovely ballparks, especially Cleveland. Just what we need in Montréal.
“Will a team ever come back to Montréal Hard to say, when you don’t have all the information. But if I had to make a prediction, my answer would be yes.’’
Danny Gallagher and Bill Young are authors of the book Ecstasy to Agony: the 1994 Montreal Expos, which is available in bookstores across Canada and in ebook format through Kobo and Kindle.