Baseball Legends Gather in Sorel-Tracy to Celebrate Montreal Expos History

(Gilles Péloquin) – After NHL hockey and the HRL series regattas, the organizing committee of the Panthéon des Sports de Sorel-Tracy invites its members and friends of the Panthéon to a meeting with three people who have marked the history of our Montreal Expos in Major League Baseball from Jarry Park to the Olympic Stadium from 1969 to 2004.

For the occasion, the Panthéon des Sports will receive from 10 a.m. to noon at the La Bouff-TiFail restaurant on Blvd Fiset in Sorel-Tracy gentlemen Claude Raymond, Claude Hubert and Fernand Lapierre.

A special invitation is therefore extended to baseball fans and to all those who have played baseball in Sorel Tracy in the past or currently to join us at the 3rd lunch talk of the Panthéon des Sports on Saturday, May 25.

Among the confirmed Sorelois, Marcel Caplette will be among the former local baseball pitchers with Jean-Guy Cardin, Ben Leblanc and Michel Lessard without forgetting Mario Pelletier to meet the legendary Claude Raymond nicknamed the “Frenchie” of our Loves, Claude Hubert who personified for several seasons the mascot Youppi and the official organist of the Expos for more than 20 years, Fernand Lapierre.

Fernand Lapierre

We are therefore expecting many of you this Saturday, May 25 to talk baseball and relive great memories of our Montreal Expos with our trio of guests at the restaurant of the friendly Lambros Koltoukis, the La Bouff-TiFail restaurant from 10 a.m.

(STM) Mr. Denis Courville, a citizen very involved in the cause of baseball in our country, sent SorelTracy Magazine a text in connection with the luncheon on baseball, which will take place on May 25. Mr. Courville spoke to the author Patrick Carpentier, baseball historian and President of the Quebec Section of the “Society for American Baseball Research”, to relate the History of Baseball in Sorel Tracy. Here is the text in its entirety.

Baseball in the DNA of Sorelois!

Sport has always occupied a special place in the lives of Sorelois. The René St-Germain stadium has been the host of most of the major sporting events held in Sorel-Tracy for nearly 70 years, but it is baseball that has made it famous. We shouldn’t be surprised by this. Sorel-Tracy has always been a mecca for baseball and the city’s clubs have made rain and shine on the Quebec baseball scene on numerous occasions since the end of the 19th century.

The story of baseball in Sorel begins in the early 1880s when students at Lincoln College, which later became Mont-Saint-Bernard College, organized baseball games among themselves and sometimes hosted clubs from other Montreal colleges. . In 1888, the city saw baseball grow in popularity as three amateur clubs were formed. In 1894, four clubs were created, including Le Sorelois, a strong amateur club made up of local talent which organized games against clubs from the region, from Montreal and from as far away as Trois-Rivières. Baseball quickly became the most popular sport in Sorel.

In 1898, the Richelieu club in Sorel was a founding member of the Provincial League, a professional circuit made up of teams from Montreal and Montérégie. The club plays its games on the horse racing track located at the corner of Victoria and Royal streets (today Fiset Boulevard). Games frequently attracted 1,500 spectators and often more. In 1899, the Richelieu finished second in the regular season but lost in 11 innings in the final game against the Montreal Mascotte. It was only a postponement since the Sorelois won the League championship in 1905 and 1906. The Provincial League ceased its operations and the club once again became an unaffiliated club which played against other independent clubs in Quebec.

Local activity was just as intense during this period. The City of Sorel baseball league was founded in the early 1910s. Of high caliber and very popular with the Sorel population, the league was made up of clubs organized in the city of Sorel itself. Many young sportspeople from the region have played for the clubs that have formed the league over the years. These young athletes had mostly learned to play baseball at school, at the Académie du Sacré-Coeur but especially at the Collège Mont-Saint-Bernard which had formidable teams since the beginning of the 20th century and which formed several good baseball players who played in the Ligue de la Cité and elsewhere on the Quebec scene. The closure of Mont-Saint-Bernard in 1928 somewhat reduced the popularity of baseball in Sorel.

The year 1934, however, marked a phase of renewal. A professional club financed by the federal minister of public works Arthur Cardin was founded by Sorel industrialist Lucien Lachapelle. The following year, the club was a founding member of the new Provincial League and Lachapelle had a 6,000-seat baseball stadium with reflectors built on the old field on Boulevard Fiset. Sorel won the championship from 1935 to 1938 with many players from across North America in its ranks, including American catcher Arthur Galen who later settled in Sorel and became a foreman at Sorel Steel. At that time, Sorel had the strongest club in the league, and thanks to Lachapelle, the city became the hub of baseball in Quebec. Sorel came close to joining American organized baseball in 1940 but Lachapelle, in disagreement with the organization’s regulations, decided to withdraw his club from the Provincial League.

The war and post-war years were quite difficult. Several players left for the front, fans no longer had the taste for professional baseball as before, organizers like Lucien Lachapelle retrained in the war industry. Fortunately, the central Oeuvre des Terrains Jeux de Sorel organizes several leagues where young people can practice their favorite sport. It was not until the late 1940s that baseball regained its former popularity.

In 1950, Yvan Coutu, a gymnastics teacher at Sacré-Coeur, founded a new baseball club in Sorel which played in the Laurentian League, a senior circuit. The league quickly transformed into a professional circuit. The old ball field on Fiset Boulevard having become disused and therefore inadequate for professional baseball, the League withdrew its concession from the city of Sorel. After long negotiations with the municipal administration, a new stadium was built in 1954 with stands and reflectors located on rue du Collège. Sorel can finally join the Laurentian League again. The club finished last under the leadership of manager René St-Germain but still had some good players, including American player Ray Brown, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

The world of baseball was changing so much in the 1950s that most of Quebec’s professional leagues gradually ceased operations. Sorel would never see professional baseball again. Thus, in 1955, the Sorel Royals of René St-Germain were part of the Quebec Senior League and won the league final series against Granby. Sorel players played in this league and its multiple incarnations until 1961 when they joined the Metropolitan Junior League. The Sorelois then progressed to the midget level and in different junior baseball categories. The Sorel club has had quite a bit of success over the seasons. In the sixties, the Athletics, led by Georges Vandal, reached the final of their league on numerous occasions. Same thing in the seventies when the Tigres were led by René St-Germain.

At the end of the sixties, the local amateur activity managed by the Terrains de jeux work was taken over by the Minor Baseball Association of Sorel, which has since become the Amateur Baseball Association of Bas-Richelieu. Under different categories, minor baseball is still as popular today and is played by hundreds of young athletes from Sorel-Tracy, boys and girls. The municipal stadium, today named in honor of René St-Germain, continues to serve as a field for baseball players and fans.

As of 2021, a local group is attempting to bring a senior baseball team back to the stadium. History has shown that Sorel-Tracy has nothing to envy of other cities in Quebec when it comes to playing baseball. Mayor Denis Coderre of Montreal liked to say that baseball was in the DNA of Montrealers. The same can be said of the people of Sorel-Tracy.

Patrick Carpentier

History you baseball
President of the Quebec Section of the Society for American Baseball Research

2024-05-18 00:50:45
#Baseball #DNA #Sorelois


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