The turn of the century was not kind to fans of Canada’s beloved baseball team, the Montreal Minks. The glory days of world championships and super star players were a good five years behind them, and all that was left were players past their prime and the same animal rights activists who had been protesting the so-called cruelty of the team’s name since day one. No wait, that’s not quite true. One other thing did remain: the loyalty of the team’s biggest fan, Brian Dunby.
Brian Dunby was only twelve years old when the team first joined the world of professional baseball. They started out slow at first, as you would expect a fledgling team to, but then they hit their stride in the early nineties. Tickets were hard to come by, and those who got them were envied by all. Brian was lucky enough to go to at least three games every season and the ones he couldn’t make he watched on television.
“That’s my team!” he would say when they won and “Oh well, we’ll get them next time,” when they lost. Thankfully for fans, the team won way more than they lost, and with each victory it wasn’t just the players who walked away feeling invincible…fans like Brian did, too.
World championships cost money, though, so after three titles in five years the team’s owners decided to unload the bigger salaries and get by with cheaper, lesser known players. They figured that they had established enough goodwill with their fans to ensure their loyalty for at least a few more years, even longer if they were anything like the die hards who supported the perpetually losing hockey team the next province over.
They were right, at least in the case of Brian. He could have jumped ship long ago, like many of the other fans who had grown tired of being associated with a losing team had done, and gone on to declare himself a fan of one of the league’s more successful organizations, but that would have made Brian a fairweather fan. Anyone can support a team when things were going well, but it takes a strength of character to stick by one after ten losing seasons in a row.
Stick by them, he did, seeing his loyalty as a metaphor for life. Winning streaks, losing streaks, ups, downs, injuries, abandonment by those you thought had your back – everyone goes through that, not just baseball teams. Ride out the jokes made at your expense and one day you’ll be rewarded. And he was.
In 2016, a player from the golden years came forward and offered to buy the team. He had been an outstanding second baseman in his playing days, but what people didn’t realize was that he was also a financial whiz. He had invested his salary wisely and now, not only was he able to buy the team, he was able to pay the big time players the team would need to win again.
The Montreal Minks went 100-62 during the regular season and didn’t lose a single match up during the playoffs. Before the start of the fourth game that would see the world championship trophy return to Canada, one fan had been given the unprecedented honour of throwing out the first pitch. At the start of the season, fans had been asked to nominate who they felt was the ultimate Montreal Minks fan. People could only think of one person: Brian Dunby, the person who had stuck by the team through thick and thin.
As Brian stepped up to the mound to throw the ceremonial first pitch, he could only think one thing:
“It feels good to be a winner!”