As a kid , he would take the 161 bus from his home in Cote St Luc to Jarry Park to cheer his beloved Expos. That passion evolved into him becoming one of the most recognizable figures during the Montreal Expos glory days.
“My favorite player early on was Ron Fairly!” Kid Mercury says with enthusiasm. “Along with Rusty Staub, they were the face of the Expos when I was a kid.I loved the Expos and baseball! The two were the passions in my life !”
It was that passion and enthusiasm that landed Mercury as the team’s unofficial mascot in 1978.One year before Youppi was hired as the official one by the team. Kid Mercury was never hired by the Expos nor was he given any free tickets as he entertained the fans between 1978 – 1985, the height of the Expos popularity in the stands and on the field.
“I had just returned from Club Med. I had been to exotic places like Tahiti – all over the world entertaining people. When I got back and went to an Expos game , I realized – at sporting events , there was a huge void on the entertainment level. The game has lulls and there was no one getting the home team or the fans pumped up ! There were the organists at the Olympic Stadium and the Forum ( home of the Canadiens) , that was it!
Mercury,as he called himself – donned a black cape and placed a hat on his head with lightning bolts attached to the sides. He also hung Expos pennants from his trumpet and aside from a few minor adjustments over the years – Kid Mercury was born!
” A hippy girl I knew from California used to call me Mercury after the Greek God Mercury. She named me that because every time she needed something – I turned up! That was the idea for the lightning bolts on my hat ! I was a messenger like Mercury!”
In 1978, the Expos were exploding onto the scene. The team’s young stars entering the prime of their careers. Tim Raines was becoming one of the best hitters and base-stealers in the majors. Andre Dawson ( Mercury’s favourite player ) was one of the most feared hitters , a premiere defensive center fielder and also one of the best base runners in the game. Yet there was only one guy on the Expos’roster that exemplified to Mercury the type of player he would have been.
That player was Gary Carter. The Kid.
“I had done my thing for about twenty games that season. People seemed to enjoy me and I was having a great time running all over the stadium , blowing my Bach trumpet and getting people pumped up ! I used to call up Ted Tevan‘s sports talk show on CJAD radio every chance I could. I was so into the Expos like everyone ! One night , I was on the air and read a poem to Mr.Tevan – a few lines that demonstrated my love for the Expos. When I finished speaking – there was silence. I was expecting Ted to call me a ‘mooch’ at any minute and finish me off with his machine guns! Instead – my poem moved Tevan so much – for once he was kind of speechless!”
Mr.Tevan asked his name and what he did for work. When Tevan discovered the entertainer‘s moniker and that he was the guy running around with the horn at Expos home games – he replied in un – typical Tevan fashion. Ted became very excited …
“Who is this mystery caller ? Tevan replied in his raspy, smoky voice.”Mercury who … Mercury what ? “
” KID Mercury! Like the Kid … Gary Carter …!” Replied Mercury spontaneously . ” I chose the name because I was a lot like Carter – I had so much enthusiasm and there was not a camera I did not like !” Mercury laughs.”I would be in the stadium among 50,000 plus spectators,I could pick out a camera at fifty paces!”
In a flash – a star was born and Kid Mercury loved every minute of it!
Mercury’s love of the limelight and his natural abilities of entertaining landed ‘the Kid’ on the pages of many papers in those days along with many television spots – mostly on French stations.
Off the field, Mercury ran a bar which was located on Pine Ave . Although the club was named Secrets, Kid Mercury used his new- found fame to promote his establishment. On his costume – sometimes his shirt, other occasions his cape – the name would be printed for everyone to see . Kid Mercury would have invited 50,000 people every night back to the bar if he could HAVE !
” I loved putting smiles on people s faces but most importantly – I loved what they gave back to me ! There was so much love coming from everybody. They loved the Expos, they loved the atmosphere and they loved me ! I like to think I gave that love back .”
The biggest disappointment for Mercury during those years is the same for many fans when the history of the team is discussed.Two words that haunt every fan and every player of the club; Blue Monday …
On Friday, October 16 , 1981 – three days before the Dodgers’ Rick Monday ended the chances of the Expos heading to the World Series,the Montreal Gazette printed a story about Kid Mercury’s impact on the baseball club. Here is an example of Mercury’s impact on the atmosphere at that time as reported by the Gazette’s Rene Laurent;
‘Irrepressible Kid Mercury,privately known for his supernatural powers,will attempt to put the fritz on the competition.” It’s my black cape that carries the spell,”said the kid, a near- permament resident of the 300 level at the Big O.” The material is from Africa and it carries special vibrations from the original voodoo owners.I’m going to put a hex on ‘em.” Anyone who sits near the kid knows that he projects an unmistakable something,along with all that noise from his beat- up trumpet,Black Magic may be one of his attributes.’
Kid Mercury’s magic did not work as the Dodgers defeated the Expos 3 – 2 in their best of five series yet the magic of Mercury’s appeal remained.He cheered for the club as it ‘s principle Voodoo Master until 1985 when he took his act to the Montreal Forum and led ‘the charge’ at Montreal Canadiens games.
“Some of the decisions the club made zapped my enthusiasm for baseball and the security guards were starting to take their jobs too seriously.I also approached the team and asked for a free pass, I figured after all I did to promote the team- it was the least they could do.”
Mercury did not receive that pass yet carried nothing but fond memories to the Forum.Being invited to one of Bill Lee’s parties among them.”A good time was had …” Is all Mercury will say on the shenanigans that took place at the Spaceman’s. Lee – a free spirit himself, was the only Expos player who be-friended Mercury and signed his pennant ; ” Don’ t forget to hit the cut-off man !”
Mercury’ s funniest memory is the time he joined the German Oom -pa-pa band in the beer garden which lay nestled in the bowels of the Expos’ home. It was a favourite gathering spot for hundreds of fans celebrating a home victory with some good tunes and a few lagers.
“I jumped on stage with my trumpet, I had a few beers so I along with a couple of hundred people were having a blast . One of the guys from the band approached me and asked if I knew a particular song. ” Hey man- I said, aside from the charge ditty I play to pump up the crowd and the funeral song TAPS – do you think I know how to play this thing?”
Kid Mercury plied his craft at the Montreal Forum from 1985 until the team moved to it’s new home at Le Centre Bell in 1995. Mercury , away from the spotlight, continues to entertain with Kid Mercury Entertainment / Animation. He specializes in children’s parties as a magician and general entertainer. He continues to make people smile and feels the love in return.
The only difference between the kid now and the one that grew up in Cote St Luc … ? He no longer takes the 161 bus to do what he loves.
Kid Mercury and Rick Keene
* Stay tuned for Kid Mercury’s tales from the Forum including the time Pat Burns called a security guard to pass a message to Mercury …a message that made Mercury realize how much impact he had on the game !
To contact Kid Mercury ; Kid Mercury ; Montreal’s Most Dynamic Magician and Kids’ Entertainer