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Sunday, March 16, 2008

More on Team Nicknames

by Daniel Valois

It would actually be interesting to see more people comment on their team's nicknames. I'm sure some of them have interesting stories behind them.

Here are mine. The first two are kind of boring, the last one is more interesting.

BRASSWORLD: Lafontaine Park Diamonds. I live right next to Lafontaine Park in Montreal, and its baseball diamonds (in ever dwindling numbers now) were where I had my best years playing organized baseball between the ages of 10 and 15.

BLOC: Parc Jarry Expos. The Expos were (and will always be) my favorite sports team of all-time. Damn you MLB. Your loss. Parc Jarry was the home of the Expos from 1969 to 1976, before they moved to then state-of-the-art Olympic Stadium. It was a small place (max. capacity of just under 30, 000), but it was a fantastic place to watch baseball. You could almost touch the players on the field, and the ambiance was crazy. People just loved their Expos. The first year, the Expos were one of the very few teams to draw over a million fans (at a time when one million was a lot) to their games. I have so many fond memories from that place. The "Parc Jarry" moniker is of course aimed at reflecting the French part of Montreal’s bilingual culture.

BRASS: Montreal Sunsets. Well, Montreal is my hometown, I was born right downtown, baptised at what later became the Université du Québec à Montréal, and lived there all my life except for a 10-year hiatus in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Los Angeles. "Sunsets" stands for two things: first it's an homage to my alma mater, UCLA, where I got my PhD in, ahum, 1991. Our department (Linguistics) was just off Sunset Boulevard. I just loved my time there. The logo's colours are UCLA's. Benoît Gauthier, a fellow Montrealer who was then a member of Brass, designed it (as well as a few others in the league).

Second, it's a reference to a unique set of events that happened a few times at the old Expos home of Jarry Park, before league officials decided to delay the start of some early evening games.

Jarry Park was a small Junior League stadium, with one set of bleachers in left field. Early in the 1969 inaugural season, the team had scheduled a bunch of 7pm games. That worked for a while. The problems started when the days got longer and the sun would start to set after game time from higher up in the sky. It so happened that those sunsets were right behind the left field beachers, which after a while were no longer shielding the infield from the glaring sun. That’s when "infield ground-rule doubles" started to happen. The chain of events would go like this: batter grounds out to shortstop, shortstop handles the ball cleanly, throws over to first base perfectly, and … first-baseman loses the ball in the sun ! Nobody touched the ball after the throw, both the fielding and throwing part of the play were flawless, and the batter ends up at second base. Official scoring: ground-rule double. After firstbaseman Ron Fairly complained a few times that every groundball to shortstop Bobby Wine was life threatening, game umpires decided to delay the game once the sun would competely set behing that problematic spot.

And if you think this is funny, ask someone to tell you the Joe Sparma story!

1 Swings of the bat:

Steve Klein said...

The wordplay of "Inyo Face" should be obvious, but Inyo is a real place: a county in central California. Not much of a place, I grant you; the whole county contains less than 20,000 people. It does take in Mt. Whitney and Death Valley, the highest and lowest points respectively in North America.