I received a call from the office of the MLA for Terrebonne and Minister of Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon, on Monday evening. The next morning he was going to present his first Medal of the National Assembly to the citizen of Terrebonne and former Expos thrower Derek Aucoin.
When I woke up yesterday the sun was shining, but the heat was not there. I was more emotional than usual because I had a meeting with a person I really like, Derek Aucoin.
I walked slowly towards his residence. I couldn’t help but think of the beautiful moments I shared with him. I saw Derek at the age of 12 participating in various baseball tournaments in the Boisbriand region.
Slowly but surely, when he started playing at the midget level, you couldn’t miss him on the baseball field. It was not because of his size that I had noticed him. It was his passion, his respect for his friends and his fast pitch that set him apart from the rest.
In major baseball
I had a thought for his son Dawson, generous and passionate about life, just like his father and mother.
Derek pitched for Saint-Eustache’s roster at the junior level, and a few years later I saw him throwing in front of the Expos players’ shelter on the Olympic Stadium field.
It was the first and not the last time I saw Derek proudly wear the Expos uniform. He had just signed his first professional contract with the Montreal team. A few years later, he launched into the major leagues.
When I arrived in front of his residence yesterday, my heart was beating very fast. I had to make a big effort to keep from shedding tears of sadness when his dynamic wife, Isabelle Rochefort, came out of the house to meet us. There were the two members of Minister Fitzgibbon’s cabinet who presented him with the medal for Derek, and two of my colleagues from the Journal of Montreal.
“Tout p’tit” always positive
I can’t remember the last time my tone of voice was so low. I listened attentively to Isabelle describe this great man to us whom I have always called “Tout p’tit” despite his 6 feet and 7 inches. She transported us to the life of “Tout p’tit”, who loves so much helping young people to discover a passion in life. I turned towards the street in front of his residence, on which several of his friends took a walk with him. Despite his illness, once the walk was over, “Tout p’tit” had found a way to motivate us. However, it should have been the other way around.
Derek never stopped helping families who needed moral support. There were families outside of Montreal asking him for baseball tickets for their children. He invited families for a stay in a hotel in Montreal, at his expense. When they got to their room, family members found Expos jerseys, balls and tickets to the game on the bed.
He regularly made this gesture without ever telling anyone. His reward was the smile that lit the faces of the people he spoiled.
Undoubtedly, the greatest recognition for a pitcher in major league baseball is being the recipient of the Cy-Young Trophy, awarded to the Most Outstanding Pitcher of the Year.
When Derek heard that he was being awarded the Medal of the National Assembly, he told his wife Isabelle: “This honor is even better than a Cy-Young trophy, because it rewards the essence of a person “.