* RHP Peter Walker finished follow through and the next thing he knew Mike Pizza’s throw to second had plunked him on his back side and was rolling into the New York Mets dugout. That’s just one of the many tales and memories Cincinnati Reds and Blue Jays players had from their trips to Montreal.
By Bob Elliott
MONTREAL _ So, in Saturday’s edition of Meet The Press we asked two questions:
1. What’s your most vivid memory of Olympic Stadium?
2. And should Montreal get another franchise?
Pete Walker, Blue Jays pitching coach, who pitched in three games (0-1, 7.36) at Olympic Stadium, had his most embarrassing moment in 2002 pitching for the New York Mets after giving up a single to Peter Bergeron.
Memory: “I threw a slider down and away, Mike Piazza back-handed the ball and came up throwing, the ball hit the turf, hit me in the butt, bounced into our dugout with me chasing it. They gave the runner third. Piazza comes out with his glove over his face laughing and says `Dude I forgot to tell you … in Montreal I like to turf it.”
Future: “Crowds of 46,00 should some attention. I did read a story they drew 3,000 some nights in 2004.”
Mark Buehrle, Jays lefty, who pitched once in Montreal, June 18, 2004, with the Chicago White Sox, allowing run-scoring doubles to Carl Everett and Nick Johnson in the five-run first, plus a two-run homer to Brad Wilkerson leaving after six innings with the score tied 7-7.
Memory: “I never flew ahead of the club early, but they insisted I leave Miami the day before. I got beat me up pretty good. I’d have guessed I lasted three innings.”
Future: “You could hear everything anyone said, there were about 3,000 fans here (4,576). It was like a spring game. Friday was not.”
Steve Rogers, former Expos ace, who won 158 games for the Expos in 13 seasons.
Memory: “Standing on the mound starting the 1982 all-star game with Gary as my catcher and Hawk (Andre Dawson) in the outfield.”
Future: “Population says yes, the groundswell of interest says yes. Fans are showing major league baseball what was … was, what is now … is different. What the commissioner (Rob Manfred) basically said was ‘bring me a group to build a stadium and we’ll talk.’”
Memory: “Their big guys like Pedro Martinez, Marquis Grissom, Larry Walker and Andres Galarraga dominated San Diego, but they also had Mike Lansing, Darrin Fletcher and Mark Grudzielanek, who were tough outs. We’d always go New York-Montreal on our trips. We figured we’d better win at Shea, because it was going to be tough here.”
Future: “I grew up in the DC area, we did not support the club and lost the franchise. I hope they do get another chance.”
John Gibbons, Jays manager, who got into two games with the 1984 New York Mets.
Memory: “Well, they their bull pens were always clean … I hardly played. I remember our relievers leaving the and heading to the mound in one of those old golf carts.”
Future: “I always enjoyed coming here, most players did. The close proximity to teams in the north east I think it would be a good fit. You’d think they’d have more support than Tampa Bay does.”
Luis Rivera, Jays third base coach, who broke in with the 1986 Expos playing three seasons, hitting .224 with two homers and 28 RBIs in 99 games.
Memory: “Walking down the tunnel and seeing the stadium Friday brought back memories of my first game here (Aug. 8, 1986). I hit my first home run off Todd Frohwirth of the Phillies here. Fans get loud.”
Future: “If they can maintain crowds of 46,000 yes. It’s like anything else … you win, people come.”
Eric Owens, Jays assistant hitting coach, who played nine years in the majors, eight in the NL, hitting .211 in 29 games.
Memories: “Tony Gwynn getting his 3,000th hit with the Padres off Dan Smith, we all ran out the dugout. When I was with the Marlins, Vladimir Guerrero throwing out Tim Raines at second from the right field wall.”
Future: “I don’t know if you can assume 46,000 every night.”
Billy Hatcher, Reds first base coach, who hit .313 in 33 games.
Future: “Sometimes when you have something and you lose it, you are more appreciative the second time around.”
Jay Bell, Reds bench coach, who hit .199 in 67 games.
Memory: ” “I was the second hitter here one night. Dennis Martinez was pitching, Gary Carter was catching and Dutch Rennert was umping. Dennis used to chew tobacco, spit in his hand and rub up the ball. On the first pitch I said ‘Dutch he can’t do that, check the ball.’ Dennis throws to Gary, Gary gives it to Dutch and Dutch throws it back. Next pitch was at my head. I was so upset I went 0-for-4 with two punch outs. I learned a valuable lesson: don’t try to hit home runs, keep trying to hit singles.”
Future: “I’d like to see them get another team. This outpouring of support from fans should help.”
Freddie Benavides, Reds coach, who played 47 games for the 1994 Expos
Memory: “Coming to the park that year … in first place … with all the people.”
Future: “I hope so.”