To mark the anniversary of the 1994 Expos, Montreal Baseball Project is re-uniting the team for some sort of festivity here in the city. He mentioned Pedro, Moises, Grip, Felipe, and others are gonna be part of it. I hope others show up too (I hope John Wetteland comes). Mitch asked him about Larry Walker and neither thought he would come. Cro proceeded to say that if anyone is in touch with Larry to call [him] homie, and let him know they want him there for the reunion.
Mitch mentioned that relations with Walker and Montreal are somewhat sour and I want to try and explain why that is.
Warren mentioned that "players have rabbit ears" and I want to to try and elaborate on what he was saying.
Remember that episode of the Simpson's where Homer gets benched for Darryl Strawberry and Bart sits behind him in the rightfield stands and heckles the Straw until he sheds a single tear? That's rabbit ears.
In fact, Bart (or whichever writer wrote that bit) did not invent the "Dar-ryl" chant...fans at Fenway did (as evidenced by this video care of MLB.com):
Okay. Now, before moving on to how this relates to Larry Walker, I want to first talk about another Expos outfielder.
In the mid 1980s, the owners of each Major League club colluded to agree to not sign any free agents in order to drive their salaries down. Expos outfielder Andre Dawson left the Expos and signed a blank cheque with the Cubs. The fans had no way of knowing about the collusion that was going on, and when Dawson came to play against the Expos with the Cubs in 1987...the Expos fans booed him. The fans should have been booing the owners for colluding but with the information they had, they could only believe that Dawson jumped ship and thus they booed him under false pretenses.
Now, the same would occur in 1995...to one Larry Kenneth Robert Walker. After 1994, Claude Brochu dismantled the Expos following the cancelled season. Walker, Grissom, Wetteland, and others were traded or released. Larry Walker was let go and signed on with the Colorado Rockies. We now know that Walker wanted to take much less money to remain in Montreal but was still let go by the team in order to cut salaries. To the fans however, who had already been shafted out of a playoff berth for the first time in over a decade, were already understandably bitter and were very unfriendly to Larry when he came to Olympic Stadium to play against the Expos as a Rockie in the 1995 season. They booed the heck out of him, heckled him every at bat, and the fans in the right field bleachers gave him the Dar-yyyyl treatment something fierce.
So when Cro mentioned that "players have rabbit ears" that's what he was talking about. The fans gave Walker the Dar-yyyl treatment but who could blame them? Just like in 1987 when they booed Dawson, the fans had no idea of the back office politics going on which led to those players leaving the club. All they knew in '95 was that they just had their World Series contender team dismantled and were as bitter as hell. Once again the jeers were undeserved by the outfielder yet it is easy to see why the fans did it. How were they to know otherwise?
My sources for these two events are: I was present at the Walker "Dar-yyyl" game and very clearly remember the length and intensity of the jeers directed at Walker. While my source for the 1987 Dawson boos comes from a very reliable Expos historian (Wayne).
The Walker and Montreal sourness is from a big misunderstanding by the fans, that's all. The 1995 season started on an incredibly sour note here and I don't think anyone can blame the fans for being pessimistic and quite angry that season.
It would be cool if Larry attends the Montreal Baseball Project's 1994 team reunion next summer.