baseball | When Pepe Mangual becomes a word of love

Name a forgotten player in the history of the Expos.

Posted at 7:45 am

After posting this message on Twitter recently, I didn’t expect to receive many responses. Over 800. Several names like Proust Madeleine shocked me. Casey Kandel, Archie Cianfrocco, and Pascual Perez reminded me of the smell of an Olympic stadium hot dog. Razor Shines, Spike Owen, and the Rowland Office have revived the flavor of gum in their O-Pee-Chee card packs. Trace Coquillette, Peter Bergeron and Chris Widger took me back to my early years of sports coverage at Journalism.

For a few days, I also found many strange names with pleasure. Coco Laboy. shoe day. Bombo Rivera. John Bocabellaaaaaaaaa. Then the wave calmed down. Just when I thought the Twitter algorithm had swallowed up the conversation forever, Oliver Rassett sent me the most amazing response ever.

“Pepe Mangual, whose face I drew on my left arm.”


Expos logo tattoo? yes.

Who is Vladimir Guerrero? he goes.

from Yobe! ? In the end, I can understand.

But who is Pepe Mangual? At first I thought it was a joke. Mangual was not a superstar nor even a major player in the Expos. He stayed here for five seasons, from 1972 to 1976. Four in a backup role. one as a carrier. He was running fast. He was hitting hard in the minor leagues – but not the big leagues. In the only season in which he played more than 70 games for the Expos, he was the fourth most offensive hitter in the entire National League. In defense, he was among the worst defensive players, with nine fouls.

But it wasn’t a hoax. The tattoo is present. It covers about twenty centimeters, on the left triceps muscle of Olivier Rasset. We get to know the face of Pepe Mangual, who wears a beautiful three-color Expos hat. “The funny thing, explains Olivier, lowering his sleeve, is that I was born eight years after he left the Expos. I haven’t seen him play!”

Photo by Marco Campanozzi, the press

Olivier Rasset proudly reviews Pepe Mangual’s tattoo.

So how did this mysterious reserve’s face end up permanently drawn to its skin?

It is above all a family story. That of a speculator. Here, we’ve been supporters of Canadians for generations. Olivier’s grandfather was a huge fan of Howie Morens. Grandfather Maurice Richard. “I’m from Guy LaFleur,” says his father Richard.

and Expos?

OK. Average.

Richard Russett says, “In the ’70s, I would go there from time to time. I enjoyed baseball, without being a huge fan. But I loved the Latin American players. I thought their names sounded flamboyant. Coco Laboy, they were beautiful. Pepe Mangual was amazing.” »

When Olivier was born in 1984, Richard was looking for a little love name for him. my chick? my cat? jojoon? no. The one that came to mind spontaneously is… Pepe Mangual.

“Why? I don’t know. He’s not a player I admired. It was difficult, because he rarely plays [rires]. I think I liked his name. »

It has become the common nickname for Olivier. “When it was dinner time, my dad would say, ‘Baby Mangoal, come and eat. ” I was a kid. I found it funny. I never questioned the origin of the surname.”

He discovers her at the age of 16, when his father Pip Mangoal calls him in front of a man who has come to have dinner at home. “Did you say Baby Mangoal?” the guest called his host.

” yes. ”

Young Olivier catches the ball with the jump and throws the man back.

“What does that mean, Baby Mangoal?

– Well there! He’s an ex-Expos player! »

Uh! So ! The puzzle has been solved.


Baby Mango with Expos 1973

Over the next two decades, Olivier Rasett somewhat forgot the story of Baby Mangoal. Five years ago, his brother Simon posted a picture of the defensive player in the gallery’s uniform on his Facebook wall.

“It could be my next tattoo,” Olivier joked.

“You are not a game.”

“No. Actually, I am not a player.”

It was only after reflection, moved by the challenge, that Olivier changed his mind. The pain did not scare him. He already had the letters CH tattooed, to emphasize his love for Canadians. on the heart. Literally. He asked his tattoo artist to draw a Pepe Mangual outline, with a tricolor hat, on his arm. Proud of the result, he showed the tattoo to his father.

“How did he react?

– nations. My father is a man of his generation. He is not always comfortable with his feelings. As far as I remember, he didn’t say anything. He drew a face as if to say, “So you and your brother are very stupid.” [rires]. The tattoo of a player in the Expositions, surely, is not really his style. But I think it affected him. »

Richard assured me then: “Yes, it made me very happy. I thought it was a nice symbol of emotion.”

Olivier explains, “Sports have always been the connecting link between me, my brother and my dad. I remember well when we watched the Canadians games together on TV, on Saturday evenings, in the brown basement of Repentini. After his divorce, my father moved into the Laurentians. I would see him less often “But I liked going back and forth by car. We talked about music, cinema, a lot of sports. Especially hockey.”

Today, Olivier is mainly interested in Canadians and Minnesota Vikings. He proudly wears a tattoo of wide receiver Randy Moss, as he lowers his pants after landing against the Green Bay Packers. “My boys and I now have slightly different sports tastes,” Richard says. You see, basketball is none of my business. But we still have good conversations. Because sport, after all, remains a fertile ground for communication. »

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