Thursday, April 14, 2005


April 14th, 1969

Larry Jaster Pitches to Lou Brock

This event is worth noting as it was the first pitch delivered in an official MLB game outside of the United States, being the home opener for the new Montreal Expos. Playing in Parc Jarry (which is now a tennis court) the Expos won their Canadian debt 8-7 despite a seven run outburst from the defending champs in the fourth inning that chased Jaster. In his defense, the innings play-by-play reads like a scene out of Major League or maybe the 1962 Mets Team Video: the inning's first hitter, Mike Shannon, hit a foul pop that was dropped by catcher John Bateman. Evidently feeling charitable, Shannon grounded to shortstop Maury Wills who botched the play allowing Shannon to reach. Tim McCarver then singled and Jaster--probably a bit rattled by having the Keystone Kops playing defense behind him--made an error allowing Julian Javier to reach, leaving the bases loaded with no one out.

Happily for Jaster, he was now at the bottom of the order; if could retire shortstop Dal Maxvill (who was a career .217/.293/.259 hitter with three home runs to that point) and pitcher Nelson Briles (a career .154 hitter) he would have a chance to escape the inning with, relatively speaking, only minor damage done. Of course, the best laid plans rarely work out that way and Jaster served up Maxvill's career home run number four, a grand slam that emptied the bases and brought the Redbirds back into a game they had been losing 6-0. The pitcher, Briles, grounded out and Brock made out to left but
Curt Flood singled and Vada Pinson singled after Jester had balked Flood to second. Flood would come around to score on an error by centerfielder Don Bosch. Joe Torre then launched a home run, scoring Pinson and putting the Cards ahead 7-6. Jester, having allowed seven runs but just two earned, was pulled for Dan McGinn. Mike Shannon came up and hit a foul pop which was dropped, this time by first baseman Bob Bailey. Thankfully, Shannon then popped out to Maury Wills.

McGinn would earn the victory when the Expos came back to score one in their half of the fourth and one more in the seventh, with McGinn himself driving in the winning run. The totals for the fourth inning, however, are just the picture of an expansion team, allowing seven runs (but only two earned) while giving up five errors (including two dropped foul pops) and allowing a grand slam to one of the weakest regulars in baseball.

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