The cartoonist and his Expos

The email was from Megan Walchuk, this newspaper’s editor. Letters from the editor, even emails, sometimes mean the writer did something wrong. This one was different.

Megan’s message was: “An old friend of yours reached out and asked to be connected. I don’t like sending out other people’s e-mails, so I’m sending you his.”

“He” turned out to be Terry Mosher. I knew of him, but didn’t know him. We travelled in some of the same circles when I covered baseball for The Montreal Star, but had never met. His circles included drugs and mine, thank goodness, did not. (His drug use is not a revelation; it’s something he talks and writes about freely.)

Let me tell you about Terry Mosher.

He is known as Aislin. So is his daughter, because that’s her name…with two n’s. Aislin is her dad’s nom-de-plume, the name he made famous (or vice-versa) as a cartoonist for two newspapers — primarily The Gazette — that loved to have him skewer politicians. But skewering became the least of his many talents.

He has been a book author — 56 times. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada. He never graduated from high school (having forged his diploma) but has doctorates from universities. In Montreal, he is a newspaper legend. His gifts go far beyond drawing, and he is a highly-respected fan of sports, especially baseball.

Why am telling his story?

Sometime this month, Mosher will launch his 57th book — Aislin’s Montreal Expos, A Cartoonist’s Love Affair. The reason he wanted to find me was to pick my brain from the years I covered the Expos. Since I know picking my brain only takes three minutes, I said sure. Then he asked if I would mind “having a look” at the section about the Expos of the ’70s. Of course.

That was 55 weeks ago. Since then, we have exchanged 100-plus emails and had many phone conversations.

We still have never met.

He became my long-distance friend, I think. I discovered a side of Terry Mosher I would never have anticipated. He is the journalist equivalent of baseball’s five-tool player. No other human being I know has his skills as an artist, an interviewer, a photographer and a writer (okay, four tools). He has been clean and sober for 39 years, for which he’s understandably proud. His works often financially benefit others, such as the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

I have read his Expos Scrapbook, all 336 pages, and while he doesn’t need an endorsement from me to sell books, he gets one. For the legion of Expos’ fans that still exists, 20 years after the team went to Washington, it’s entertaining, informative and thorough, warts and all. There are things even I learned about my years on the beat! Full disclosure: While my part in his book was basically — as I said to him — picking a few nits with a little fact-checking, all of it was as a volunteer.

Every time I read a book, I wish I’d seen the galley proof…before it was printed, because inevitably I find little mistakes or typos that I could’ve corrected. Alas, I never get that chance.

Thanks to Terry Mosher, this time I did.