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McCord Museum

The Unintentionally Prophetic Youppi! Cartoon

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McCord Museum

When I first asked Terry Mosher, who works under the nom de plume Aislin—a variation of his eldest daughter's name—about his Youppi! cartoon, he asked me which one I meant. Not only has the provocative political cartoonist drawn over 10,000 cartoons during his illustrious career—syndicated in newspapers across Canada and internationally—but he has also made the former Expos mascot a frequent subject.

In fact, the lifelong baseball fan is a member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which is responsible for electing new members into the Hall of Fame. Mosher recounts how in his first year of voting eligibility in 1991, Canadian pitcher Fergie Jenkins was elected to the Hall of Fame by a margin of one vote—a fact Mosher happily takes credit for.

The cartoon I originally had in mind is a particularly prescient one from 1988. Then-general manager of the Canadiens is shown fielding a call from the then-Expos mascot while a newspaper headline declares the "Expos Flat." The implication seems to be that, with his baseball team on the skids, the giant, fuzzy, orange creature (he was designed by Bonnie Erickson, creator of Miss Piggy and several other Muppets) might be driven to look elsewhere for work. And eventually, he did. It would take another 17 years, but Youppi! would become the first mascot to ever make the jump from the baseball diamond to the hockey rink when he joined the Habs in 2005.

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Mosher doesn't claim to have had nearly two decade of preemptive insight, though. Instead, he chalks the cartoon up to the Expos' frustrating inconsistency in the 1980s. But he, like Youppi!, found comfort in the Habs after baseball abandoned Montreal, directing his fandom towards hockey for the time being.

To supplement what can be found online, Mosher sent us a selection of other Youppi! cartoons that, taken together, effectively chronicle the Expos' experience:

In this early cartoon, Youppi! looks jubuliant to be driving the "Bus Squad", the nickname given to the 1979 Expos' effective bench players.

Aislin: Montreal Gazette

A Spanish-speaking Youppi! expresses excitement for the Expos' brief but popular stint in Puerto Rico, where they played 22 of their home games in 2003.

Aislin: Montreal Gazette

Later, Mosher imagines a devastated Youppi! taking drastic action after being abandoned by the Expos.

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But ultimately, Youppi! dons a new uniform for his new role with the Canadiens.

Aislin: Montreal Gazette

If you're interested in seeing more of Mosher's Expos work —including actual players, not just mascots—check out Jonah Keri's Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Exposwhich is filled with contemporary Aislin cartoons, and provides a little more detail about the team's history than this post. 

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Great Big Story, Youtube
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video
Seattle Mariners Fans Are Going Crazy for These Crunchy Grasshopper Snacks
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Great Big Story, Youtube

Seattle Mariners fans have more than warmed up to the newest, offbeat addition to the Safeco Field concessions menu: toasted grasshoppers covered in chili-lime salt.

The crunchy snack, which sells for $4 and comes packed in a small container, has only been available for less than a season but has already sold 300,000-plus orders to date. That's about 1000 pounds of grasshoppers. 

Frequenters of Seattle's popular Mexican restaurant Poquitos will know that this delicacy—which first started as a novelty item on its menu—has actually been available to the public for six years. But it wasn't until local chef Ethan Stowell was hired to give the Safeco Field menu a hip retooling that the salty bugs found new, fervent popularity at the ballpark. (Also on the Safeco menu: fried oysters drizzled in hot sauce.)

Great Big Story met up with Manny Arce, the executive chef of Poquitos and visionary behind this culinary home run, to discuss the popularity of these crunchy critters. You can watch the video interview below:

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History
The First High Five Recorded in the History of Sports
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Denis Poroy/Getty Images

We don’t quite know who invented the high five—but we can pinpoint the moment it became inextricably linked with sports, which the short documentary The High Five explores below.

On October 2, 1977, Los Angeles Dodgers leftfielder Dusty Baker scored his 30th home run, making the team the first in history to have four players—Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, and Reggie Smith—with at least 30 homers under each of their belts. Fellow outfielder Glenn Burke was so overwhelmed with joy and pride, he raised his arm and slapped his flat palm against the victorious athlete’s own palm. The moment transformed Baker and Burke into legends.

Sadly, the latter player faced hard times ahead: Burke was gay, and it’s believed that his sexuality prompted team officials to trade him to the Oakland A's the following year. In Oakland, Burke clashed with team manager Billy Martin, then retired early from baseball. Today, Burke is remembered for his charisma and talent—and for transforming a simple gesture into a universal symbol. “To think his energy and personality was the origin of that, that’s a pretty good legacy,” sportswriter Lyle Spencer says in the film.

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