Funny how one thing will make you think of another seemingly completely unrelated thing. The recent financial troubles of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets and the involvement of Bud Selig in both situations brought back my many fond memories of a team I still think of each and every baseball season, the Montreal Expos.
But rather than write a column about what was done to Montreal by Major League Baseball and Bud Selig and those shady financial and moral circumstances involving Jeffrey Loria, a nice warm sunny first day of May got me thinking about someone who was as integral a part of the Montreal Expos as any of their great players over their thirty plus year history.
Dave Van Horne was the voice of the Expos from their first season in 1969 until 2001. Montreal incredibly did not have an English broadcasting contract for the 2000 season. Apparently, then owner Jeffrey Loria did not receive the compensation he was seeking from the English broadcasting media and left English Expo l fans without a voice either on television or radio. But Van Horne continued to broadcast Expo games, his play by play could be heard over the Internet. With still no contract for the 2001 season in place, Van Horne decided it was time to leave the organization and has been the lead radio voice of the Florida Marlins ever since.
This summer’s Hall of Fame ceremonies will be a very special one for me and for the many remaining Expo fans as Dave Van Horne will be honored. He is the 2011 winner of the Ford C. Frick award for excellence in broadcasting and I cannot think of a play by play announcer more deserving.
I spent countless games listening to Dave describe the Expos on field action from Jarry Parc to Olympic Stadium and all those places on the road. It always felt as if he was talking to me personally as he described each pitch and each play with a one on one casualness which only the great ones possess. Dave was never one to be afraid to criticize the Expos if he thought the situation warranted such comments but he did so intelligently and made his point and moved on. He also knew when to stay quiet and never pointed out the obvious. He always treated the game as if it, not he, was the important thing. Dave’s homerun call of “up, up and away “is still fondly remembered here in Canada.
In an interview in the Montreal Gazette August 12, 2010 concerning his honor by the Hall of Fame, Van Horne said, “This is the highest award a baseball broadcaster can receive. I am obviously thrilled, humbled and very excited. It is the professional highlight of my career,” “I am humbled to be among those people that are previous winners of this award. This was a very overwhelming and emotional day.”
“Dave Van Horne introduced Major League Baseball to English-speaking fans in Montreal and his voice became the standard for two generations of Expos fans,” Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said in a release.
Dave Van Horne is an essential part of any Canadian baseball fans memory and he was elected into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.
Congratulations Dave and thanks for all those years.