A Dream of Fields 5: The Montreal Expos

Baseball north of the border! On a trip to French-speaking Canada, my then-wife and I caught a ball game in Montreal. That trip? Our honeymoon.

Vendredi, 3 Juillet 1998, 19H05

Stade Olympique


Montreal Expos 8, Florida Marlins 4

Yes, it was our honeymoon. We drove to Quebec City—one of my favorite cities in the world, and someplace I hope to bring my daughters someday. It’s probably the only place in North America that has an old European feel. The “old” part of the city has a wall around it, the streets there are narrow, and overlooking the St. Lawrence River is the Chateau Frontenac. Here’s a photo from the Dufferin Terrace looking at the Chateau:

Beautiful, isn’t it?

After a few days there, we drove to Montreal, which is a wonderful place in its own right. Much more modern than Quebec City and much less French speaking. While we were there, I convinced her to see a baseball game to check off one more from my dream of fields. The Expos were in town. They would be team number five, which is one-sixth of the way to completing the journey. The early times of this lifelong goal were exciting!

Now, some of you younger readers may not have heard of the Montreal Expos because they no longer play in Montreal and they are no longer called the Expos. They’re now the Washington Nationals, and I have yet to see a game in D.C. More on that later.

Getting a ticket only an hour before the game is an impossibility nowadays in Boston. But in Montreal 1998, getting a tenth row behind home plate ticket was easy. The stadium wasn’t very good It was built (but never finished) for the 1976 Olympics, and in the late 80s, they tried installing a retractable roof made of orange Kevlar, but it ripped.

The team wasn’t very good either, and attendance had been dropping for a few years, which is why they were ultimately relocated. I could go into baseball history and talk about how awesome the 1994 Expos were and that they would have probably won the World Series that year if not for the players’ strike that ended the season. I could talk about the trading of players that occurred after that, pretty much dismantling an awesome team. But I won’t because this is about the dream of fields.

So I saw a game in Montreal, but Major League Baseball no longer has a team there. The team is elsewhere, and I want to see a Washington Nationals game now. That will be 31 fields instead of 30. But the relocation of one team is less of a wrench in the gear shaft than all of the new stadiums that have sprouted up in the past two decades. Already, FOUR of the fields that I’ve been to are no longer in use by their respective teams (the Twins and the next three that I would visit). This poses a problem for my dream of FIELDS.

How can I accommodate the ever-changing landscape of baseball? Do I make it about the fields and discount a few of the ones I’ve been to? Or do I make it about the teams and discount only the Expos? Or is there some way to compromise? I don’t yet have the answers to these questions, but I know one thing that’s certain.

The honeymoon phase is over.

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Check out the other posts in this series:

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. Minnesota Twins
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Baltimore Orioles

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