Yesterday, April 25th, 2015, my son Reed phoned me from his place of work in the early afternoon hours. He was almost in tears when he asked me, “Dad. Have you heard the news?” I asked him, “What news?” He sadly replied, “Mr. Fanning died early this morning at his home in London, Ontario.” I just didn’t know what to say. I was stunned and silent, which is a true rarity for me!

When my family re-united for supper that same evening, we started to reminisce fondly about our numerous encounters with Mr. Jim Fanning and with his whole family.

Many people forget, or never knew, that Mr. Fanning lived in Pointe Claire for a brief period of his life. He, Maria his wife, Cynthia his daughter and Frank his son, lived at the end of Belmont Avenue in Pointe Claire that was located a mere 500 meters from the now defunct Terra Cotta Baseball Diamond. They resided at this address for most of the 1990’s.

My children flashed back to when they used to deliver the Montreal Gazette newspaper to their house. In those days, the local newspapers were actually still delivered to people by youngsters trying to earn a little extra pocket money, not by motorized adult carriers like today! Leah and Reed, my kids, used to fight over who was going to collect the weekly payment for the Gazette from the Fanning’s. Leah usually won that battle as she was older than her brother. It was actually through Leah and Reed, that I met Mr. Fanning. He had found out that I was very involved in the running of the local baseball programs in the city of Pointe Claire. His wife Maria phoned my late wife, Christiane and invited our whole family over for supper one evening. What an unforgettable event. There my family was with Baseball “Royalty!”

Gentleman Jim and his wife Maria had a uniqueness of making you feel like you were always part of their family. Their true “warmth” and sincere “friendliness” was always evident when in their presence.

Over the years, our family was invited to numerous functions held at the Fanning household. Leah actually became the Fanning’s babysitter for about 3 years. She would take care of Frank and Cynthia when Jim and Maria were attending a variety of Montreal Expos functions. Reed became the Fanning’s lawn cutter when the family went on summer vacations.

 

I personally remember the Fanning’s Christmas parties. Our family was always invited. Leah would help look after young Frank and Cynthia. My late wife, Christiane, would also help Maria entertain the guests. Reed and I were the lucky ones. We got to “hob-nob” with the numerous Montreal Expos players and their wives that were also in attendance.

 

Mr. Jim Fanning was also very involved with the baseball community of Pointe Claire. When he found out that I was involved in baseball in Pointe Claire, he ran numerous impromptu pitching clinics at Terra Cotta baseball diamond. When he found out that his neighbour, Jeff Coney, was a friend of my son, he gave them numerous free tickets to the Expos games. I fondly remember that when Jim phoned to give us tickets to the Expos games, it was never for a single game. It was always for the home series. They were always the best tickets too! I remember sitting near Donald Sutherland, the actor on many occasions. It was the summer that he wore a cast on his arm for most of the Expos games. I actually found it comical. The security guards would always check our tickets for the first few times until they got to know us. Leah, Reed and my wife and I stuck out in the V.I.P. section I guess?

Many of the players in the MUCSLB Senior Lakeshore Baseball League have similar memories as Jim Fanning and on many occasions, some of the Expos players themselves would drop by Terra Cotta to offer some free hitting, pitching or fielding advice to the young baseball players of Pointe Claire. Just ask Jeff Coney (Blacksmiths), Reed Gilmore (Vets II), Jeff Barnes (ex-Jays), Chris Dyer (ex-Mets) and many other players and umpires in our league.

The sport of Baseball has lost a true icon of the sport. Rest in Peace Gentleman Jim and thanks for the great memories. The MUCSLB’s sincere sympathy goes out to Maria, Frank and Cynthia.