By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Jacques Doucet says the 2022 major league season could be his last behind the mike.
The Canadian broadcasting legend, who was the French voice of the Montreal Expos from 1972 to 2004, made that statement on the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s inductees Zoom call on February 2.
“I told the people at TVA Sports that I might hang up the mike at the end of the season. They don’t agree,” said Doucet, who was elected to the Canadian ball hall in 2020, but due to the pandemic has yet to be formally inducted. “I know that my voice is still very good. My memory is not failing too much, although I’m going to be 82 in March.”
Doucet, who has been calling Blue Jays games in French for TVA Sports since 2011, says he still enjoys broadcasting, but the preparation has become cumbersome.
“Most of the teams don’t have their press guides printed,” he said.
This requires him to go online and print out the statistics and bios he requires in order for him to feel ready for the broadcast.
With all of this said, Doucet has yet to sign a contract with TVA Sports for 2022. The process has been delayed by the Major League Baseball lockout. And with MLB and the MLB Players Association making little progress towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, who knows when the season might actually begin.
“It’s still up in the air because I work for TVA Sports and they have not renewed their contract with the Toronto Blue Jays yet,” explained Doucet. “Usually we carry 60 Blue Jays games in the province of Quebec and I work those games along my longtime partner Rodger Brulotte. Right now, it’s still up in the air.”
Doucet says he should know of TVA Sports’ plans shortly. The network has even told him there’s a possibility he could be doing some Boston Red Sox games this season.
But regardless of whether he broadcasts games in 2022, it has been a remarkable run for Doucet behind the mike. And there’s no question he is worthy of his Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction.
“Usually the [Canadian Baseball] Hall of Fame is for former players or former executives, very few broadcasters are in there, and I think I’m going to be the first French broadcaster. So to me, it’s a very, very big honour,” said Doucet. “I did not expect it. When Scott [Crawford] called me and told me about it, I said, ‘Are you pulling my leg?’ But he said, ‘No.’ And I can’t be grateful enough for the people that have voted me in.”
Born in Montreal in 1940, Doucet has been calling major league baseball games for more than four decades and many Quebec baseball fans credit him as the reason they fell in love with the sport.
Doucet served as an Expos beat reporter for La Presse from the time the franchise was awarded to the city in 1968 to 1971. He began performing play-by-play for the Expos’ French language radio broadcasts in 1972 and continued for 33 seasons. For many years, Doucet also broadcast major league playoff and World Series games in French.
Doucet said there are a few games that stand out as highlights.
“First, the All-Star Game in Montreal,” said Doucet on the Canadian ball hall Zoom call. “That was the first time it was held outside the United States and it was a large success. And I was part of it because I was one of the emcees.”
Doucet also cited the two perfect games he called – Expos ace Dennis Martinez’s masterpiece against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 28, 1991 and New York Yankees right-hander David Cone’s flawless performance against the Expos on July 18, 1999 – as highlights.
“And also I had the privilege of calling, well I have to say two perfect games, but there was three because Pedro Martinez had one for nine innings (on June 3, 1995 against the San Diego Padres), but he lost it in the 10th,” said Doucet.
After the Expos left for Washington following the 2004 season, Doucet continued his broadcast career in his home province, calling games for the independent Can-Am League’s Quebec Capitales from 2006 to 2011.
In August 2011, he returned to the big leagues to broadcast select Blue Jays games in French for TVA Sports and he has continued in that role.
In total, Doucet has called more than 5,500 big league games during his storied career. For his efforts, he was inducted into the Quebec Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Montreal Expos Hall of Fame in 2003. The following year, he won the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Jack Graney Award, which is handed out annually by the Hall to a member of the media who has made significant contributions to baseball in Canada through their life’s work.
In 2019, he was one of eight finalists for the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2020 Ford C. Frick Award.
Doucet has also been a strong supporter of baseball at the grassroots level in Quebec. As an ambassador for Baseball Quebec, he has been an active supporter of many fundraising activities for minor baseball teams in the province. He also served as an executive with the Quebec Junior Elite Baseball League from 2004 to 2010 and was involved in the Quebec Summer Games held in Longueuil in 2014.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Doucet, like his fellow 2020 Canadian ball hall inductees Justin Morneau, Duane Ward and John Olerud, has had to wait more than two years to deliver his acceptance speech in person. But if all goes as planned, he’ll finally be behind the podium on stage in St. Marys, Ont., on June 18.
“I feel a little bit out of place among all of those great baseball players [that have been inducted] . . . But since you’ve given me the honour of being among those stars, I will accept it humbly,” said Doucet at the beginning of the Canadian ball hall’s February 2nd Zoom call.