Montreal celebrates Expos on team’s 50th anniversary
No matter who they came to the “Big O” to support, ask anyone there about the Expos and they’ll have a memory to share.
“We used to come up here years ago,” said Jim, who came from Albany, N.Y., to watch the Blue Jays play the Milwaukee Brewers at an exhibition game at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
“I’m still as excited as I was as a little kid,” said Marc-Andre Bouvrette. “It’s the same thing, the same feeling, the same butterflies inside.”
On what would have been the 50th anniversary of the Montreal Expos, the team seems to still be a favourite.
“They can take the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, as far I’m concerned, and somehow get them on the national league and get yourselves a team up here,” said Andrew Rothrock, who came to Montreal from Milwaukee, Wis.
The Expos made their debut in Montreal in 1969. They were the first Major League Baseball franchise outside the United States. But following the 2004 season, the team relocated to Washington, D.C., and became the Washington Nationals.
“I’m still hopeful. I know that they’re going to come back here; I’m going to come back with my kids,” said Bouvrette.
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Several Expos greats also came back to the Big O to celebrate the anniversary of their team, including former player and team manager Felipe Alou as well former Expos players Dennis “El Presidente” Martinez, Larry Walker and Ross Grimsley, among others.
“I couldn’t see nothing and I felt like a rock star coming out of the stage,” said Walker, referring to the music, lights and fireworks featured in the tribute.
“It’s always good. You know, my dad played here, and I had the opportunity to play here,” Grimsley told reporters. “It was very special, very special.”
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At city hall, Mayor Valerie Plante also invited the former Expos to sign Montreal’s Golden Book.
“You are all great ambassadors for us,” said Plante. “We celebrate the past 50 years yet, at the same time, we look forward with renewed optimism.”
That optimism comes as a group of investors, including Stephen Bronfman, has been lobbying Major League Baseball to bring the team back. The group is proposing a site at the Peel Basin for what would be the team’s new stadium.
Bronfman says the group is finalizing its plans “and building something great for the city that’s not just going to be baseball, that’ll be a multi-use project.”
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