A look into an MLB comeback in Montreal with a former Expos player
By James Floreani
On September 29, 2004, the city of Montreal bid farewell to their beloved Expos as Major League Baseball announced the relocation of the team to Washington.
That same night, the team played its last home game: a 9–1 loss in front of only 31,395 fans.
Just like that, the first Canadian team to join the MLB was gone like the wind.
Ten years later, in the spring of 2014, the MLB held a two-game exhibition series prior to the regular season at the Olympic Stadium between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets. The experiment turned out to be successful, drawing 96,350 fans and proving that there was a strong interest in a Montreal return to Major League Baseball.
Former Expos player Warren Cromartie, who founded the Montreal Baseball Project in 2012, was among the organizers. The Florida native has dedicated himself bringing baseball back to Montreal because he believes the city needs it.
“It will make Montreal a destination again! You look at Toronto, what the city has done with the Blue Jays’ recent success…they used to be our little brother going all the way back to when we did the exhibition series in the ‘70s. The big brother needs to come back. It would put Montreal back on the map as a baseball city, not to mention create lots of jobs for Montrealers,” Cromartie says.
The Blue Jays then returned for a second two-game series in 2015, this time facing o against the Cincinnati Reds. The series drew another 96,545 fans. The success of the series’ bolstered the Montreal Baseball Project’s e orts.
Retiring commissioner Bud Selig was impressed by the fans in 2014 and said the city would be an excellent candidate for a new team. His replacement, Rob Manfred, echoed those same feelings in 2015.
Prior to the 2016 season, the Olympic Stadium hosted a third exhibition series in three years. is time around, the Blue Jays were pegged against the Boston Red Sox. The series was the biggest success to date, attracting over 106,000 fans combined.
Although there is no set timeline on when Montrealers can expect to have a baseball team again, the significant progress in recent years has alarmed the baseball world that Montreal doesn’t only want its team back, it deserves it.
With Tampa Bay and Oakland both needing new stadiums, it opens up the door for a potential move to Montreal for one of those franchises to relocate depending on what happens in those respective cities. Another avenue to get a team could be through a potential expansion.
For now though, Cromartie and eager baseball fans in Montreal await patiently.
“With nearly 4 million people in the city, Montreal is the largest North American city without a baseball franchise right now. First, we have to continue to show the world we want baseball back. Wear your Expos gear anywhere around the world! When we do get a team, because it will happen, fans need to show up. It’ll be here to stay because this time around, we’re going to have good ownership and a vision,” explains Cromartie.
For more information on the Montreal Baseball Project, visit: montrealbaseballproject.com