Montreal Baseball Project made a bit of a splash when we launched our new website in the beginning of January. The reception has been extremely positive and encouraging. Supporters of baseball in Montreal should know that MBP's work toward our stated goal – to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal – is continuing in the background. The Montreal business community is stepping up to the plate and we’ll be in discussions throughout the month of February.
In the meantime, MBP and the city of Montreal continue to get good press on both sides of the border. Scott Ferguson recalled last week on TSN.cahow baseball “fans in Montreal were more boisterous and emotional than most (he’d) seen in the Majors.” He recognized that Montreal Baseball Project is “trying hard to get the Majors to return to Montreal.” Don’t I know it! Most significantly, though, Ferguson points to Montreal as a logical target city for Major League Baseball should the need arise. Ferguson joins Jim Caple and Keith Olbermann in expressing the same sentiment about the future of baseball in this city.
Hey, it’s like I always say: The history of baseball in Montreal is long, rich, and unfinished.
I was so pleased to learn that my Expos teammate Tim Raines has been named for induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ontario. I believe Rock also belongs in Cooperstown, but this is a great honor for Tim. Good for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for recognizing his qualities. Raines recently joined the Toronto Blue Jays as a baserunning and outfield coach. He’ll be a great addition to that organization.
SPRING TRAINING MEMORIES
With spring training right around the corner, I find myself thinking of how I always looked forward to spring training with the Expos in in Daytona Beach and, later, West Palm Beach. Even though I’ve been retired since 1991, I still feel that sense of renewal and hope that spring brings every year. Living in Florida, I always enjoyed making the drive from my home in Miami to the Expos’ spring facilities. Spring training for me was about getting into shape and reconnecting with teammates, a lot of whom you wouldn’t get to see from the last day of the previous season until the first day of spring camps. In addition, it was always a really neat thing to witness the influx of fans from Canada, escaping winter for a little while, getting up close to us players, taking pictures, showing their loyalty to the team, and watching some baseball. The excitement on the faces of the fans was what spring training was truly all about.
While I was always happy to see the guys on the team again, I wasn’t always happy about having to fight for a job come spring. Luckily for me, I had versatility on my side (I could play first base as well as the outfield) and, just as importantly, I was durable. I did my best to steer clear of the training room, keeping myself healthy and on the field. In fact, from the time I became a starter in 1977 to the end of my tenure with the Expos in 1983, I appeared in 96% of the team’s games. That includes all 162 in 1980, a year in which I was only one of nine Major Leaguers to suit up for every one of his team’s games. Other names on that list in 1980 included Pete Rose, Dave Winfield, Steve Garvey, and Al Oliver, my future teammate who was with Texas at the time. Durability was always one of my proudest achievements as a ball player.
Hopefully, one day soon, Montreal baseball fans will be able to head down to spring training once again to cheer for their team and welcome them back for yet another baseball season.