Posts Tagged ‘Larry Walker’


September 29 is usually a special day for me. The steady stream of phone calls, e-mails and visits I receive from friends and family have always been an enjoyable part of my birthday. But September 29, 2004 was very different. It was the last game the Expos would play in Montreal. I briefly thought about coming to Montreal for the game, but I could not stand to be there. I felt sick just thinking about it. The final score or who did what on the field didn't matter. There was nothing that could make that game better, and what I've heard from many of you who were there confirm that.

I thought of the story that marked the beginning of baseball in Montreal for many of us. When Jackie Robinson was sent to Montreal to play for the Royals in 1946, it was part of a plan to chip away at the colour barrier in baseball. If he was going to continue to be kicked off flights and openly discriminated against, it would be away from the spotlight of Major League Baseball. But in a different country where people spoke another language and looked nothing like him, the opposite happened. Montrealers opened their doors to Jackie, helped his pregnant wife with her groceries, and when the Royals won the International League championship, they chased him through the streets out of love, not hate. They chose to be positive and uplifting, when it was so easy to give in to the negativity.

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson of the Montreal Royals

It goes to the heart of everything the Montreal Baseball Project is doing: changing the tone of negativity surrounding baseball by giving fans and players the chance to reshape how we see the past. We knew the 1994 Expos team was good, but we didn't know how good until this year's Gala. Larry Walker's story of how the outfielders used to switch gloves and hold staring contests during games was both shocking and amusing to those who was there to hear it first.

Larry Walker (right) shares stories with Warren Cromartie and fans at MBP's 2014 gala in honour of the 1994 Montreal Expos.

Larry Walker (right) shares stories with Warren Cromartie and fans at MBP's gala in honour of the 1994 Montreal Expos, March 29, 2014.

It is why we decided to honour Expos legends Andre Dawson, Rusty Staub, Tim Raines, and Andres Galarraga, as well as long-time broadcaster Jacques Doucet at our Expos All-Star Gala on April 1, 2015. There are some interesting coincidences with these four. Both Staub and Dawson had memorable careers while wearing number 10 with the Expos. Tim Raines was the last Expos player to have his jersey retired, the number 30, while the Gala will mark the 30th anniversary since Andres Galarraga began his career in Montreal. Having these icons share experiences together and shed new light on moments we all remember will mark another shift in how we understand the story of the Expos that is a part of all of us.

MBP's Expos All-Star Gala: April 1, 2015

On April 1, 2015, Montreal Baseball Project will honour Andre Dawson, Rusty Staub, Tim Raines, Andres Galarraga, and Jacques Doucet at our Expos All-Star Gala. For more information, please visit our EVENTS page.

Monday September 29, 2014 is another opportunity for us to redefine history and counter the negativity behind every doubt about what we are doing. Let’s all wear our Expos colours with pride that day. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, share it with the hashtag #MONTRÉALBASEBALL. Whether you’re getting a friendly game going on your local baseball diamond or simply taking a stroll in your neighbourhood, let’s create a wave of Expos gear for all to see. Let it be known that baseball is as alive as ever in the city, and if there is someone who should question their understanding of the past or what Montreal is capable of, it isn’t us.

Montreal Baseball Project Update

It has a been a busy few weeks for MBP, which included several key meetings to plan for the months ahead. We are pleased to announce that we are in the process of putting together a detailed plan for Major League Baseball, according to their established standards. This includes details about financing, operations and the rendering of a facility. We hope to make another statement about our progress in March, as the beginning of the baseball season is the ideal time for us to be sure we are in the spotlight and remain there. We must continue to be patient and do what we can behind the scenes to ensure Montreal is at the forefront when a decision about a franchise relocation or expansion is to be made.

What We Talk About When We Talk About 1994

This piece appeared in the souvenir program for Montreal Baseball Project's gala dinner marking the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Expos, March 29, 2014.

What We Talk About When We Talk About 1994

By Mark Paterson

Nineteen ninety-four. For a Montreal Expos fan, there may be no more evocative term. It only takes one second to say it, two seconds to write it down, but to do either is to conjure an array of memories and emotions that last a lifetime. How can one season stand for so much? For everything that came before it, for everything that came after, and, most importantly, for what occurred on the field that year, 1994 was the Montreal Expos’ finest hour.

Not only were the 1994 Expos stacked with talent, they were stacked with young talent. Very young talent. From its solid starting rotation to its impressive bullpen to its dynamic offense, the roster’s average age was merely 26, the youngest in the Majors. The team had power, the team had speed, the team had arms – on the mound and in the field – but, perhaps even more significantly, the team was going to get even better.

This abundance of youth was balanced by the wisdom, experience, and craft of manager Felipe Alou. Alou had been at the helm of the club since May 22, 1992, when he became the Majors’ first Dominican manager after a long Major League playing career and many years as a minor league manager and a coach at various levels in the Expos’ organization. Alou’s arrival in the dugout marked the beginning of a renaissance for the Expos, both on the field and for the fans. Alou’s work with the 1994 team earned him the National League Manager of the Year Award. His body of work earned him the legendary status in the city of Montreal that lives on today.

At 74-40, the Expos’ record in 1994 – the best in all of baseball – is impressive enough on its own. But it’s the team’s record in June, July, and the portion of August that was played prior to the work stoppage that paints a more precise picture of dominance. Posting 46 wins and only 18 losses over their last 64 games – an astounding winning percentage of .718 – the young and powerful Expos had hit their stride. The team got its first taste of first place in the National League East on July 8 when, following a 14-0 win over the Padres in San Diego, they caught the Atlanta Braves in the standings. Montreal and Atlanta seesawed atop the East for close to two weeks, but on July 20, after the third victory of what ultimately became an eight-game winning streak, the Expos grabbed first place for good. Not only were they running away with the division, they were steamrolling their way into the playoffs and, with confidence and poise to go along with their talent, a trip to the World Series seemed inevitable. By the time the 1994 season came to its premature end, the Expos were 6 games up on the Braves and not looking back.

But looking back is what brings us here tonight, twenty years after the Montreal Expos’ finest hour, twenty years after Nos Amours posted the best record in the Major Leagues. For Expos fans, it was the moment we had waited so long for. We all know what happened next – we all hate what happened next – but why dwell there? Time has the power to heal, to trade bitterness for hope, and to teach us the moment we’d waited so long for is actually still there. Try it for yourself. Can you remember? We had it. We tasted it. We felt it. It didn’t last for as long as it should have, but it happened. The 1994 Montreal Expos were a very special team. The 1994 Montreal Expos were the best team in baseball. The 1994 Montreal Expos are still champions in our hearts.

And nobody can take that away from us.

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.