From sports infamy to a baseball book: the story of Blue Monday

From sports infamy to a baseball book: the story of Blue Monday

Posted on November 15 by Danny Gallagher in Non-fiction, Recent Releases
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Have you ever wondered what it takes to get a book published?

It all starts with the author. In the case of my book Blue Monday, about the Montreal Expos (and the infamous day in October 1981 when Rick Monday of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit a home run off Expos pitcher Steve Rogers in the ninth inning, giving the Dodgers a berth in the World Series), the journey began in October of 2016. I had initially thought of writing another general Expos history book, but then I decided to zero in on the 1981 team – the only one to make the playoffs in franchise history.

I conducted interview after interview, and had written a good chunk of the book by January 2017, at which time I started approaching publishers. I got an encouraging response in July of 2017 from Scott Fraser, then acquisitions editor at Dundurn Press.

It sure helped that Fraser had been a die-hard Expos fan. He loved my theme, my proposal, my extensive table of contents and two sample chapters. We worked out a contract and Blue Monday was born. My deadline for the manuscript was October 2017 for 70,000 words, 20 photos and half a dozen illustrations and charts.

Over the winter of 2017-2018, developmental editor Allison Hirst took my tome, read it, studied it, proofread it, shaped it, re-shaped it some more, and made the whole thing sing. I think I made her an Expos' fan in the process.

From there, a proofreader looked at the manuscript, scouring it attentively for typos, missing words and other gremlins. Next was a copy editor, who went over the manuscript meticulously, line by line. Then a graphic designer gave the book a wonderful visual look.

Blue Monday was presented to Dundurn's sales rep teams in Canada and the U.S. Those teams then went out and pitched the book to bookstores and also baseball-related organizations like the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary’s, Ont.

To promote the book, I have done numerous media interviews and spent an inordinate amount of time talking up the book on social media, most notably Twitter and Facebook, along with 100s of private messages to followers and friends. I have also been lining up book signings and other appearances since the book came out in October.

Blue Monday was released Oct. 13 in Canada, Nov. 6 in the U.S. So here's how it all evolved: work on the book began in October of 2016, the manuscript was due in October of 2017 and the book was finally released in October 2018, at a time when baseball fans are focused on post-season play.

The book's release date is no fluke – it coincides closely with the date of the original ‘Blue Monday’ game: Oct. 19, 1981. The subtitle of the book says it all: “The Expos, the Dodgers, and the home run that changed everything.”

Brandon Forsyth, sports book buyer for Indigo Books, noted: “I see it as our biggest baseball book for 2018.” You can't get a better endorsement than that!

"I ordered the book as soon as I saw it in the catalogue,'' added Jim Sherman, owner of Perfect Books in Ottawa. "It brings back wonderful memories of that team and some memorable road trips from Ottawa to watch them play. I remember the agony of that day all too well.''

Fans also keep coming forward with their own ‘Blue Monday’ story.

"Like many of us, I was there that Monday to remember the greatest moment our Expos ever had. Nothing came as close,'' Montreal sports artist Peter Chokly told me. "My lasting memory of that day was how nobody wanted to leave their seats after the game. We all just sat there in disbelief.''

That was the same feeling former longtime Expos board of directors member Arnold Ludwick had as he sat beside Expos general manager John McHale that day. When the game was over, Ludwick was gutted – but moreso as he took in McHale’s disappointment. "It was tough to see a large man like John cry,'' he recalls.

One fateful day, so many stories. And you can read all about it in Blue Monday.

Danny Gallagher

Posted by Dundurn Guest on November 21, 2017
Danny Gallagher photo

Danny Gallagher

Danny Gallagher is a freelance writer, author, and Montreal Expos historian. He began covering the Expos in 1988 for the Montreal Daily News. He is the author of four previous books on the Expos. In recent years, he has been a regular contributor to the Canadian Baseball Network website. He lives in Uxbridge, Ontario.