Posts Tagged ‘Expos’

Rounding third and headed for home!

Wow, what an incredible two weeks it's been, Montreal! We began this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the inaugural season of the Expos, and today we suddenly find ourselves as close as ever to bringing baseball back to the city.

To have the green light from Major League Baseball and the owners to explore the possibility of Montreal hosting a team in tandem with the city of Tampa speaks volumes about the diligence and the quality of the effort put forth so far. It is an idea that is both innovative and exciting, with significant potential to revolutionize professional sports and the economics associated with it.

I have always said that Montreal is a Major League city, and these developments of the last two weeks demonstrate how unquestionable Montreal's place is in the baseball world. For our group and the city of Montreal to have been entrusted to pursue this opportunity is of immense pride and importance to us.

There are still hurdles to overcome, and many details to be sorted out, given the novelty of the idea, but it is nonetheless a very positive development. There are already established links between the two markets and this will open up tremendous new opportunities on so many levels. But whether it is playing 20 games, 40 games, or a full season in the city, Montreal is ready.

We now have baseball games being played in places like Mexico and London, and to have an established presence in a recognized international city like Montreal is accelerating the process of reaching this global market. I have seen for myself how the Expos brand has grown over the years in Japan. It is now seen in many places, and alongside the iconic franchises of baseball.

Over the last few years, Montreal has caught the eye of the baseball world, regularly being mentioned by Major League Baseball, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and by some of the most prominent baseball writers. The fact that the Washington Nationals will be wearing Expos uniforms in a game next week is a further nod to the franchise, though I personally would have preferred that more of the team's history and iconic players like Tim Raines and Andre Dawson would be part of the commemoration.

It has been an unbelievable journey over the past seven years, and I am amazed at how this crazy idea I had of bringing baseball back to Montreal has captured the imagination of so many, and the efforts of some of its most passionate and courageous leaders, most notably Stephen Bronfman. WHEN we get our team back, we will all look back at this incredible ride and take pride in how we made it happen. Stay tuned, Montreal, there's much more to come!

Vladimir Guerrero, Hall of Famer!

The Montreal Baseball Project is very pleased by the news of the election of legendary Montreal Expos star Vladimir Guerrero to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"I am happy to see Vladimir Guerrero joining the Baseball Hall of Fame," says Montreal Baseball Project founder and president Warren Cromartie. "His outstanding results in only his second year of eligibility are testament to his electrifying style of play, and to the recognition that he earned throughout his career. To have come from such humble beginnings and earn the greatest individual honor a baseball player can receive is a remarkable story.

"Vladimir's decision to enter the Hall of Fame as an Angel is an understandable one. There are many factors that a player must consider together when given such a choice, which isn't often the case, as we saw with Gary Carter and Andre Dawson. Tim Raines embraced the idea of being inducted as an Expo, as it was the most representative of his career, even though it could result in him missing out on future opportunities.

"Being the first representative of a franchise in Cooperstown is a significant milestone that comes with a unique place in history. Vladimir has the right to make this choice based on what he feels is best for his future and the various ways a team is expected to support him as a Hall of Famer. It is unfortunate that the city where he played the longest and has the most fans does not currently have a team, but I can understand his decision.

"What does not change for any of these players is the many years they spent in Montreal, and the role the organization played in their development and success. Being a product of what was widely recognized as one of the best scouting and development organizations for decades is yet another link to baseball's history that Expos fans can take pride in, as we continue to advance in our objective of bringing Major League Baseball to Montreal."

vlad hof-BRAVO


Montreal's weekend of baseball once again proved to be an incredible experience that left its mark on the city and the baseball world. The challenge was in many ways bigger this time around, and Montreal once again rose to the occasion, proving that the hugely successful return of baseball last year was not just a novelty, but Montreal reconnecting with a fundamental part of its DNA, as Mayor Denis Coderre rightly says.

Montreal Baseball Project was excited to be leading off this weekend with our All-Star Gala that reconnected some of the biggest names in Expos history with the city that knew them as 'Nos Amours'. The personal interactions between the honorees and the guests and dignitaries in attendance gave the evening a very special feeling that celebrated the special history that we all shared together.

There were some unforgettable moments, like Tim Raines mentioning how Montreal was where he grew up and he felt Canadian because of that, and Andre Dawson describing so eloquently how difficult it was for him to leave Montreal and how committed he is to seeing baseball return here. Andres Galarraga, with his smile as generous as we remembered it, spoke fondly of his time in Montreal as an Expo, as did Vladimir Guerrero, who ended his speech with a 'merci beaucoup', proving how sincere their words were, after spending so many years away from the city.

Having them share the stage together along with legendary broadcaster Jacques Doucet was special, given that as many as three of them have a chance at joining Andre Dawson and the late Gary Carter as representatives of the Expos franchise in Cooperstown. There were memories made that will last a lifetime for fans of all ages, and some smaller moments some of our guests witnessed, like when Vladimir Guerrero briefly stepped outside the ballroom to buy an Expos keychain for himself. It made it clear to us how important it was to bring back these remarkable individuals, as much for the fans as for the players themselves. The Gala and the buzz surrounding it in the media would prove to be the big hit to start the rally that was to come in the following days.

If last year's exhibition games at Olympic Stadium were about celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Expos team, this year's games would be about proving baseball had a much deeper meaning to Montrealers and truly understanding what that was. Many were expecting a drop in attendance from last year, including representatives from Major League Baseball. What happened was the exact opposite, as the total attendance not only matched last year's number, but beat it by a slight margin. The heartwarming moments between Russell Martin and his father, and the wonderful ovation the Reds’ Chad Wallach received, simply because so many fans remembered his father's time with the Expos, were taken in by so many children who were themselves watching their first game with their own parents. It marked a new beginning for baseball fans, and a continuation of the revival that began last year. It was as if the difficult years of the Expos franchise were completely forgotten, and we were brought back to the atmosphere of the glory days of the early 80’s.

It seems impossible to imagine Major League Baseball not returning to Montreal next year, especially with even more teams expressing an interest in playing these games. Because of this tremendous success, Montreal is no longer just part of the conversation, but part of the circuit. The encouraging comments we have heard from Major League Baseball, including from Commissioner Rob Manfred himself, mark a significant development in what we are trying to accomplish. The questions are steadily shifting away from "if baseball can return" to "when can baseball return".

We have clearly moved into a new phase in this big dream of ours, and as much as we are anxious to see progress, it is only by having patience and following due process that we find ourselves closer today than we have ever been. But rest assured, we are continuing to work behind the scenes, making sure we build upon the successes of the past few years and the firm grassroots that have been established. Stay tuned!


Click here to see more photos from our Gala!


2014 was a year we will never forget. It began with the astounding success of the exhibition games in Montreal in March and the celebration of the 1994 Expos, and carried through all the way to the end of the year. Montreal remained in the conversation during the All-Star break and World Series, due in part to encouraging comments from Bud Selig, Scott Boras, Paul Beeston and several influential writers.

When the Montreal Baseball Project first set out to bring back the 1994 team at the beginning of this year, it was to give them the tribute they so deserved, but never received.  There was nothing more fitting than to make them a central part of the festivities surrounding the exhibition games at Olympic Stadium, and to reconnect them with the city that was behind them 20 years ago. But we quickly learned something very humbling at the MBP Gala. There were countless stories we did not know. Like how the outfielders would switch gloves during pitching changes just to make the games more interesting. And how confident the team was heading into any city to face any team and the sense of family they felt not just among themselves, but with others in the organization. John Wetteland went so far as to say that it wasn't closure- it just opened up more questions.
À l'arrière/Back row: Joey Eischen, Sean Berry, Cliff Floyd, Wil Cordero, Marquis Grissom, Tim Scott, Moises Alou, Larry Walker, Tim Spehr, Rondell White, Heath Haynes, Denis Boucher, Gil Heredia, Pierre Arsenault. À l'avant/Front row: John Wetteland, Ken Hill, Joe Kerrigan, Felipe Alou, Kevin Malone, Darrin Fletcher, Lou Frazier.
It is a big reason why MBP is bringing back some of the most legendary names in Expos history to our Gala in 2015. Rusty Staub and Jacques Doucet were there on opening day in 1969 and together they will reshape our understanding of history and ignite something special once again. Tim Raines and Andre Dawson were the face of the franchise through some of its most promising years, and lived through some unforgettable moments. Andres Galarraga's presence will remind us of how the city has deep roots decades after his big years as an Expo, and how it lives on well after 2004. Their combined presence will create memories that will last a lifetime, and will propel us into the next phase of this big dream of ours.

Montreal is now considered the frontrunner to land a Major League Baseball team. This is tremendous progress from where MBP was a year ago. But we can not stop there, because there are other cities watching, looking to build the same type of momentum so they can find themselves where we are. We have to think bigger, and that will be our challenge in 2015.

However, one thing is certain: Montreal IS a baseball town and in baseball terms, a five-tool city. That was proven this year, and it will be proven again next April.  It now needs to reaffirm itself as a business town, a bustling place where dreams are born and are lived, and where optimism prevails over nostalgia. A big part of the resurgence of baseball here is the boomerang effect of adults who loved the Expos 20 years ago now introducing the game to their own children. Those families are a central part of what we are trying to accomplish, so that next generation can pass this tradition down to their children.

The conversation around baseball in Montreal has to shift from simple yes or no questions and answers, to what it would take to bring it back here and make it a lasting success. Those who want to dwell on what went wrong have already missed an amazing ride, one that has transcended and brought ideas and people together like only Baseball can.

We learned a lot this year about how strong the passion for baseball is in Montreal, beyond what many had anticipated. And we were overwhelmed by how much support we have throughout the baseball world. But most importantly, we learned that this is all happening because ultimately there are people who believe in Montreal and what it can accomplish. It is time we all do.

On behalf of everyone at the Montreal Baseball Project, I wish you all the best for the holiday season and a safe and prosperous 2015.  We can't wait for it!


Well, it's been quite an eventful few weeks for us all that began with an exciting end to the baseball season.

This year's playoffs gave us quite a thrill ride. From the up and coming teams and rivalries to the beautiful ballparks, there were very few dull moments. The World Series saw my last team, the Kansas City Royals take the San Francisco Giants to a Game 7 that could have gone either way in the bottom of the 9th. In the end, the Giants won, and the word 'dynasty' is now becoming synonymous with their franchise. These are the same Giants who almost left San Francisco for Toronto in 1976, and almost left again only a few years after reaching the World Series in 1989. Today, they are seen as the model franchise, anchored by a ballpark that has revolutionized how the game is seen and has become an unmistakable part of the city's architecture.

We also learned that baseball will once again return to Montreal for a weekend in April 2015, after this year's unforgettable series in late March. It should be yet another incredible experience that will mark the path on this journey of ours, and reignite passions once again. Montreal Baseball Project is proud to be hitting leadoff for this weekend of baseball with our Gala that will reconnect Montreal with some of its greatest baseball heroes, like Rusty Staub, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and Andres Galarraga, and the legendary Jacques Doucet. Our Gala this spring was an inspiring success, as we learned how critical it was to give the floor to the players, so they can relive iconic moments and we can understand the past from their perspective. And we want you to be there next year to help write another chapter in Montreal's rich baseball history.


And yes, there were all kinds of rumors swirling about who may or may not be involved in bringing a team back here and in what capacity. I have always said that it will take patience and following protocol to bring baseball back to Montreal. Rather than speculating, we have to focus on what we can do, and what is within our reach until we are at the next phase. The attendance for this year’s games at the Big O surpassed everyone’s expectations, so much that several teams expressed an interest in coming to Montreal for next year’s preseason games. Blue Jays' president Paul Beeston described those games as having "playoff atmosphere" and said “Your best ambassadors when you left were not just those numbers, but also the 60 players, coaches and managers that said what a great time it was here, too.” As hard as it is to improve on a capacity crowd, we have nowhere to go but up in 2015. We have no choice.

It requires us to keep baseball in the conversation. To keep challenging our assumptions, because we will all have to do more to bring baseball back to Montreal. As Felipe Alou revealed to us at our last Gala, it took an extra effort from many people working in different capacities to keep the Giants in San Francisco and build that ballpark. We each have an important role to play to rekindle the same spirit that led to Major League Baseball coming to Montreal almost 50 years ago. To get Montreal to think big again. And from everything I've seen and heard in the last two weeks, I know you're up to the task.


Last week, Major League Baseball chose Rob Manfred to succeed Bud Selig in January as its next Commissioner. I have been asked what my feelings are about this selection and what we are trying to accomplish at Montreal Baseball Project. To begin, the new Commissioner is gap-toothed and has a great personality, which is a great start between him and me. With all of his experience with Major League Baseball and over two decades of labor peace, allowing the game to be successful for so many years, Rob Manfred has a lot going for him.

Rob Manfred

Rob Manfred

Here is my personal top 10 list of what I would like to see him do:

And last, but not least:

The return of baseball to Montreal would be a big part of his legacy, and would immediately reaffirm the international reach of the game and reconnect it with a missing part of its history. I am certain Rob Manfred has had conversations with Bud Selig about Montreal, and is well aware of what we are trying to do. I think he will be fine, and so will we. We have to continue to do what we have been doing and keep our ears open for his first public comments about Montreal as a future location for a franchise.


In late July, I had the great pleasure of meeting Gabriel Morissette and Adry Laurin, two Montrealers visiting every MLB stadium this summer to promote the idea of bringing baseball back to this city. I must say I am tremendously proud of these two for going on this 3-month journey in support of this dream we all share. Their initiative demonstrates the groundswell of support there is at the grassroots, particularly among the youth, for the return of MLB to Montreal.

Gabriel Morissette, moi & Adry Laurin

Gabriel Morissette, Warren Cromartie, and Adry Laurin

Every visit of theirs has become an opportunity to strike up a conversation with baseball fans all across America about how deeply the game resonates in Montreal. Their journey is raising a lot of awareness and publicity for what we are trying to do, even though their car is not in the best shape. By the end of this trip, it may find itself in an institution. But as long as they keep changing the oil and the filter, they should be all right. It is great to have that kind of support and dedication, and I encourage you to follow them on Twitter (@mtlontheroad) and check out their blog on their website.

You will definitely want to look out for my next blog, when I will have a couple of announcements pertaining to baseball in Montreal. Stay tuned!



For many of us, watching the All-Star Game this week was an opportunity to reflect. It remains a high-profile event that promotes baseball and lets the fans participate in a big way. Over the years, the Home Run Derby has taken center stage, and the game itself has lost some of its lustre. I personally think the World Baseball Classic should be part of the festivities. But of all the sports, baseball's All-Star Game is still the only one with real consequences, and that has most closely resembles the game fans are used to seeing.

This year, the highlight for Montreal baseball fans came off the field. During Commissioner Bud Selig's meeting with the press, he declared that Montreal was "an excellent candidate in the future" for a team, and that the two exhibition games in March were "very impressive" and "marvelous." These comments made headlines throughout the baseball world and beyond. They were a testament to how much we have accomplished together in such a short while. Those two games in March and everything leading up to them are part of a revolutionary change in how Montreal is being perceived.

I remember what it was like in 1982 when we had the All-Star Game in Montreal. The city was on fire during that time. It was a destination, THE place to be. Aside from the players, there were movie stars, celebrities, and TV crews from all across North America arriving in Montreal. They came for the baseball experience, but they would take in so much more. I remember how places like Ben's Deli were as popular as ever, and how the event overlapped with everything iconic about Montreal.

Partie d'étoiles 1982 All-Star Game, Stade Olympique, Montréal

Recently, Montreal mayor Denis Coderre said that bringing baseball back will be what will truly make Montreal a sports town again. As much as the Grand Prix and the Canadiens play a big role in promoting the city, the return of Major League Baseball would have its own far reaching impact. It would bring Montreal into the conversation on a continuous basis. It would our city a destination again, and allow us reclaim our place on the big stage.

March 29, 2014: Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre greets Larry Walker at Montreal Baseball Project's gala in honour of the 1994 Expos.

But getting back to the All-Star Game in Minnesota, it is amazing to see how the event opens a city to an international audience. It is another side of baseball that makes it so special. Each ballpark is a landmark that allows a city to showcase itself to the world. It brings together the region's architecture, its history and its culture into an experience that is both familiar and unique, and that people travel from all over to take in. It is that type of involvement that Montreal Baseball Project envisions in this big dream of ours. Montreal deserves that same opportunity to build a monument to everything great about itself, and that so many people can be part of together.

1982 All-Star Game logo

Taking It Up A Notch

It's been a while since the phenomenal success of the spring, when Montreal got its first taste of baseball in a decade. It was tremendous to have nearly 100,000 fans pack the Big O for Major League Baseball for the entire world to see. It lit up the city, and baseball became THE topic of conversation in Montreal.

I saw how old fires were rekindled, and how new grassroots were established at the game. Children who had never had the opportunity to watch a baseball game were now taking one in. Just like for many of us, it was the start of something special, a lifelong passion that lives on many years later.

It is disappointing to still hear doubts about what we accomplished, particularly from people who were part of the Expos organization for so many years. Some of them believe this idea of bringing baseball back is a long shot at best. I think they are out of touch, unaware of how much has changed. They are not in the city anymore, and are still stuck in another time, when things weren't quite right.

Overall, I am tremendously pleased with what has been accomplished in the last little while. If it were easy, it would have been done already, but we've put a lot of hard work into the project so far. The progress we have made has turned doubters into believers and I look forward to continuing this journey to make Montreal a big league city again.

Where we are now is right in the middle. We are in a holding pattern, doing what is required and what we can do behind the scenes, until the right opportunity to bring a team here presents itself.

One thing we are not planning to do is build a stadium without a team. We have to continue to approach this with patience, because this is what has put us in the driver's seat ahead of other cities that have shown an interest in Major League Baseball.

We will continue to celebrate Montreal's rich history of baseball, through galas and other events, to light a fire for the future from our successes of the past. We have a strong group that is doing some great work behind the scenes. We are gaining the trust of the public, and are proud to be ambassadors of baseball in Montreal. We are going full steam ahead from here, engaging various people and groups to ensure we keep moving in the right direction.

On July 12, Expos Nation will be making its presence felt at Citi Field in New York at the Mets-Marlins game, as part of its Expos Day initiative. It is an ambitious idea that deserves our support. It also reflects the type of effort we should be looking to make, given what we have accomplished and where we stand today.