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Conversations with Clayton: Danny Gallagher Returns!

The Bard of the Montreal Expos

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Marlins v Expos Photo by David Boily/MLB via Getty Images

It is always a pleasure to talk with Danny Gallagher, the bard of the Montreal Expos and one of my favorite writers. Over the course of a five decade career in journalism, Gallagher has written about the club for the Montreal Daily News, Ottawa Sun and the Globe and Mail, for whom he also covered the Blue Jays. He has written a shelfful of books, eight about the Montreal Expos. In recent years, he had been publishing compilations of recollections from former Expos about their lives and times in Montreal. His most recent is called Based Loaded: Inside Stories About Eli, Cro, Cy, Terminator, and the Expos and it is filled with great tales from their days in Montreal. In a wide-ranging interview, Danny and I discuss his writing process, food at the Big O, and the underrated ‘93 Expos squad.

Clayton Trutor (CT): For fans that are too young to remember the Montreal Expos, what do you want them to know about this team and their history?

Danny Gallagher (DG): The Expos produced some great teams in the late 1979s and early 1980s and in 1987, 1989, 1993, 1994 and those surprise teams in 1973 and 1996. They drafted and tutored exceptional home-grown players like Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Larry Walker, Vlad Guerrero and many others. Their farm system and scouting operations were exemplary.

CT: Which players have been the most enjoyable to interview?

DG: Steve Rogers, Andre Dawson, Dennis Martinez and Jerry White have always been accommodating. So is Bill Lee, whenever I can get a hold of him or see him in person.

CT: I think you are the most productive writer that I know. Do you follow a standard writing schedule? How do you write so quickly?

DG: I’m usually up and running each morning about 6 a.m. I tend to do a fair amount of writing in the morning and in the afternoon, sandwiched around a catnap around noon. With typing courses I took in high school and college, I can type close to 90 words per minute. I shut it down and take it easy each day by not interviewing anyone or doing any writing after 5 p.m. My way of trying to contact former Expos personnel is interesting. I search for players and their numbers online or emailing addresses online. Basically, I try to reach people by phone or email but I’ve also been known to write personal, typed-up postal letters, requesting an interview.

CT: Did Olympic Stadium give the Expos a homefield advantage in any respect?

DG: Olympic Stadium was helpful in many ways for the Expos, especially with any fan support they could muster, especially in their glory days in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The astroturf was a bonus for Expos hitters but on the downside, it took its toll with wear and tear on many knees.

CT: What was your favorite thing to eat at the Big O?

DG: Anything they would serve journalists in the press box for a pre-game meal. Out on the concourse level, I would get a steamed hot dog.

CT: Besides the 1981 and 1994 Expos teams, which Montreal Expos teams did you find the most enjoyable to cover or watch?

DG: The 1993 squad was one of the best in franchise history, winning 91 games. The 1987 team came out of nowhere to win 91 games. It was really a fourth-place team. The 1989 club led the NL East for a good part of the summer but folded to finish a very disappointing 81-81.

CT: What do you make of the continued popularity of the Montreal Expos logo, particularly Expos hats, among fans with no particular connection to the team or city of Montreal?

DG: The popularity of the Expos logo is somewhat of a phenomena 18 years after their departure. Sales of the hat and memorabilia are fairly high, especially since 2012 when Warren Cromartie began beating the drums for the return of baseball to Montreal.

CT: How closely did you follow former Expos players after the team moved to Washington?

DG: It was always a treat to see what former Expos would do in Washington. I would check the box scores a lot to see what they did. But it wasn’t the same as having your own Montreal team. I’ve always resented the fact the Nationals tried to make the Expos a continuing part of the “franchise” with statistics. Tim Wallach’s Expos records shouldn’t be tied in with Nationals records.

CT: After the Expos left Montreal, how did the Blue Jays respond to being the only MLB team in Canada? Did they explicitly court former Expos fans?

DG: I can’t honestly say the Jays pursued Expos fans. I know a lot of fans in Montreal cannot stand the Jays and cannot stand the city of Toronto. But myself, I have always been an Expos and Jays fan.

CT: What are you working on now?

DG: I am writing another book of Expos memories similar to the ones that came out in 2020, 2021, and 2022. My new book is scheduled for publication in January, 2023.

Follow Danny Gallagher on Twitter: @dannogallagher7

Go buy his many fantastic books on the Montreal Expos over at Amazon right now.