At a time when more and more young athletes practicing the same sport 12 months a year, it is difficult to make enter in the habits of life the concept of diversification of sports activities.
However, the concept was quite in vogue in the 1980s. Even the players of the Canadian traded their skates for cleats, making the tour of Quebec with their team of softball during the summer.
In Rouyn, with the little guy in the corner, it was the same principle. Hockey in the winter, baseball in the summer.
Thus, in the space of two years, Pierre Turgeon, Stephane Matteau, Eric Desjardins, and André Racicot, along with three other teammates were removed from the honours of the provincial championship hockey and baseball.
Evolving level atom Has (today the equivalent of the BB), the Optimists of Rouyn had flown over the season 1978-1979, the tournaments, the playoffs and the provincial championships with a record of 46 wins, no defeats and three draws.
With four NHL players in the making, it was self-evident, some might say. And yet, they were not a part of the leaders of this training.
“We were four players of the first year. It was far from being the most dominant, said André Racicot, joined by the author of these lines earlier this week. Pierre (Turgeon) came out of the lot, but it was built on second years that were very good. “
The number, Pierre Sabourin, captain of the team which, a few years later, was to have a season with 109 points, including 51 goals, with the Governors of Sainte-Foy (midget AAA).
“It was definitely our best player,” said Turgeon.
Already a man
Person, then, would not have been expecting that, of these four kids for 10 years, three remporteraient the Stanley Cup and another would become the captain of the Canadian.
“It’s crazy when you think about it. Some cities have difficulty to see one of their players reach the NHL. And we, we were four in the same team. It is amazing, has launched Turgeon.
“In fact, the only one who seemed to have a future guaranteed, according to the echo arena of the time, it was Pierre (Turgeon). It was a phenomenon of nature, revealed Matteau. He had the talent, but also the physical. It was a bear ! “
In fact, Turgeon had almost reached its full maturity. At age 12, he was already 6 feet tall and weighed 175 pounds. Is an inch and 20 pounds less than during his career of 1294 games in the NHL.
No surprise that he rose through the ranks of minor hockey at a crazy speed. Upgraded every two years, Turgeon has reached the Midget AAA at the age of 15 years.
Moreover, the perfect season was the last where the four have evolved for the same training.
From the following, the minor hockey association of Rouyn was going to dilute its product by forming four local teams, making a cross for six years on the hockey elite.
“Still to this day, I don’t know why they did it “, laments Racicot.
A been miraculous
Two summers later, it is baseball that the quartet has won major honours.
“We had four pitchers. We alternated between. The only southpaw of the group, it was Eric (who, oddly enough, also played for the 2nd goal), ” said Matteau, also a third baseman.
Partner of district 4 of the Ontario, with, among others, the cities of Sudbury, Kirkland Lake and Timmins, Rouyn had reached the national Championship, played in Vancouver.
“These were our four best hitters. In fact, they constituted the core of our alignment, ” said Dominic Chamberland, a member of this team.
The experience had not been conclusive, the representatives of Rouyn not winning a match in five.
“It was new for everyone. It was the first time that a team from Rouyn came out of the district. There was no comparison, stressed Racicot, who was on patrol as the shortstop.
“We go there, it was a miracle. It was not the most beautiful grounds, we had no coaches specific, nobody had shown the techniques, we did not practice with the stick before games, listed Matteau. It was really home made. It was passionate. And the fact that good athletes should have helped us. “
At least, this trip to Vancouver was going to prepare for four players, including Turgeon and Matteau, as well as the coaches, which was going to have to wait for the next season : a historical presence in the famous world series of little league in Williamsport.
To five withdrawals of the story
“It was 30 minutes of painful for a young man of 12 years, but today, I consider myself extremely lucky to have lived this experience. “
When Stephane Matteau and the Rotary Rouyn represented Canada at the world series of little leagues, in the summer of 1982, Taiwan-Taipei was in this competition for several years already. Training asian had won the five previous tournaments, and 9 of the last 11.
The Rotary Rouyn wore the Canadian colours at the world series of little league in Williamsport in 1982.
The order was heavy for the young Canadians, winners of their first match of the competition, in the face of this international power, the only obstacle separating them from a presence in the grand final.
“We played two months of the year, while they played all year long. You could see the difference. The ball to their thrower should fall about a foot long in arriving at the marble, ” said Pierre Turgeon.
And yet, with Matteau on the mound, Rouyn was just five withdrawals to succeed the unthinkable.
“We played the game of baseball is incredible. I was throwing very well, remembered Matteau. This was 4 to 3 with two innings to play, and then they exploded with seven points in a round.
“Today, after three or four points, the coach I would have surely removed from the mound. But in that time, there was no substitute. We had to finish our matches.
“It was painful,” he repeated.
Back 10 to 4 in the sleeve, ultimate, pride of Rouyn showed a lot of character by reducing the gap to three points and placing three runners on the trails, even before the first withdrawal.
The launcher that the taiwanese had, however, taken things in hand.
“I think that he had established a record of small leagues with 15 withdrawals at the stick. But the Taiwanese had committed four or five errors, which allowed us to score seven points. “
Two days later, Taiwan would bow in the face of a formation of the State of Washington.
The victory was so significant for the Americans that it was the subject of a documentary series 30 for 30 ESPN, in 2010.
The history of Rotary, Rouyn, too, is unusual.
“We accomplished a unique feat, supported Turgeon. Rouyn, it was a city of 15 000 inhabitants. And we managed to assemble a team that went to Williamsport. I think we will not see ever that. ”
The key to Pierre Turgeon
For two seasons, the Rotary Rouyn dominated the baseball ontario. On the second occasion, with Stephane Matteau and Pierre Turgeon, the giant of 12 years, the mound, they have reached the semi-finals of the world Series of little league in Williamsport.
To get to the prestigious tournament in Williamsport, Rouyn had to win the canadian title, in Boucherville. Pierre Turgeon, on the strength of his 6 feet and 175 pounds, had taken advantage of the opportunity to put in value.
“In the grand final, we lost 3 to 2 in the last round. Like in the movies, three bullets, two shots, he hit a circuit to equal the score, talked about Stéphane Matteau. Then, in the eighth inning, he stole third goal to finish off by scoring the winning point. “
And what of the previous step, the provincial championship (ontario), where Turgeon had to make the shuttle on an almost daily basis between Montreal and Toronto because of a hockey camp bringing together the best hopes of the province, held at the same time ?
“It was only two launchers. Then, the matches where I did not shoot, I took a flight to Montreal to participate in the camp. The next day, I returned to Toronto. I had to do it two or three times in the week, ” recalled Turgeon, who during his stops in Montreal, lived with Pierre Lacroix, at that time agent of his brother Sylvain.
“Pierre brought me to the airport and came to pick me up. I was 12 years old. I had never taken a plane in my life, he continued. It is there that I understood that I had to make a choice. I played another year of baseball before deciding to devote myself only to hockey. “
A decision that has allowed him to experience a career of 1327 points in 1294 games in the NHL. That earned him a 32nd ranking the most productive in the history of the circuit.