Rodger Brulotte is one of the best-known and most beloved figures in baseball in Quebec, affectionately called "Monsieur Baseball" by most. While mainly famous as a broadcaster, he has filled various other roles around the game, starting as a player, and then in scouting, administration and promotion of youth baseball.
Born of a French-speaking father and an English-speaking mother, he was fully bilingual from the youngest age, something which would serve him well in his later duties. Growing up in a working class neighborhood in Montreal, QC, he was a good athlete in spite of his diminutive size (which would be a source of running jokes as a broadcaster), playing shortstop on an amateur team organized by the "Loisirs St. Eusèbe" in the early 1960s. This was a community organization run by the local Catholic parish that had developed a solid baseball program over the years, its most famous graduate being future major leaguer Tim Harkness.
Brulotte got an opportunity to work in baseball when the Montréal Expos were formed in 1968. He was one of the first employees of their scouting department, and was soon identified by scouting director Mel Didier as a young man of talent; Didier made him his executive assistant for a few years. He then moved to public relations and marketing director and worked as the team's traveling secretary. In a famous anecdote which he only relayed years later, he explained that he helped delay Game 5 of the 1981 NLCS by downplaying the chance of rain clearing; Jim Fanning wanted to give his starter, Ray Burris, an extra day of rest, and asked Brulotte, who was the liaison between the umpiring crew and the weather bureau at Dorval Airport, to ensure no game was played that day. The strategy worked in that Burris pitched a great game the next day, but so did his opponent, Fernando Valenzuela, and the game, now universally known as "Blue Monday", was famously decided in favor of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Rick Monday's 9th-inning homer off Steve Rogers. In the marketing department, his biggest contribution was the creation of the team's beloved mascot, Youppi!; he is considered one of the furry creature's two fathers, alongside then-team president Roger D. Landry.
After a couple of successful guest slots starting in 1983, Brulotte became one of the Expos' French radio announcers in 1984, working in tandem with Jacques Doucet, who was already an institution in the role. The two complemented each other well, the cerebral and extremely articulate Doucet's style contrasting with Brulotte's child-like enthusiasm, font of anecdotes, and sometimes iffy phraseology. His catchphrase was "Bonsoir, elle est partie !" ("Goodnight, she's gone!"), uttered whenever an Expos player had hit a homer. No one was his equal in communicating the excitement and building tension of a good game and he became a huge star as a result, even if his understanding of the finer points of sabermetrics was iffy at best. He called Dennis Martinez's perfect game in 1991, then soon thereafter moved from radio to television, joining up-and-coming play-by-play man Denis Casavant on the RDS cable network. Like Doucet, Casavant was articulate and a consummate professional, serving as a perfect foil for the ebullient Brulotte. He kept the job until the demise of the Expos in 2004, and continued after that, describing Major League games from a studio in Montreal, paired with Casavant or other younger announcers. In 2012, he began working Toronto Blue Jays games in French for TVA Sports, once again teaming with Jacques Doucet.
In addition to his broadcasting work, Brulotte has been a tireless promoter of amateur and youth baseball in Quebec. He has worked for Baseball Quebec (the Quebec Baseball federation) and for "Encore Baseball Montréal" and served as President of the Quebec Junior Elite Baseball League, the top amateur league in the province. He also writes a baseball column for Le Journal de Montréal. In 2013, he won the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame's Jack Graney Award, the top baseball media award in Canada.
Primary Source: Canadian Hall of Fame
- Rodger Brulotte: Bonsoir..., Les Éditions de l'Homme, Montréal, QC, 2015. ISBN 9782761942522