If I had to sum up the summer of 2012's Montreal Baseball Project celebration and reunion in just one sentence, it would be this: Baseball is alive and well in Montreal.
Even a few months later, the feelings are still so strong. From the autograph-signing sessions, to halftime on the field at Molson Stadium, to the golf tournament, to the baseball clinics with the kids, and to, finally, the gala, the 1981 Expos were once again the toast of the town in Montreal. There were so many great moments. Andre Dawson and Jim Fanning made sure everybody who wanted an autograph got one, signing for four hours! The reception my teammates and I received on the field at the Alouettes’ game was just tremendous. We felt the love once again and a little bit of “Val-de-ri Val-de-ra” was thrown in for good measure. I took the mic and wowed everybody with my eloquence en français (Je t’aime, Montréal!) and we’ve had more than a million hits on the video of that moment already. Who says Montreal doesn’t still love the Expos? At our fanfare and baseball clinics, the fans were able to get closer to the players and, just as importantly, us players were able to get closer to the fans. It was great to see kids too young to ever attend an Expos game, yet who wear the apparel, get to see real live Montreal Expos up close and personal. All of these wonderful events led up to Saturday night’s amazing gala dinner.
What a vibe we had in that room. To get a crowd of Expos fans together with the 1981 East Division Champion Expos was something I’d been trying to pull off for a number of years – and a lot of people thought I’d never be able to do it – and we finally did it. The spirit of Gary Carter was there that evening, you could just feel it. And to top it all off, I did my Cro-prah. You’ve heard of Oprah, but Cro-prah is MY talk show. With three seats up on the stage, let’s just say that I got my guests to talk! We had such a tremendous evening and witnessed such a tremendous outpouring of support. We really hit a home run.
The gala weekend has come and gone, but my work is far from over. I see it as a great beginning to my journey. Phase II of Montreal Baseball Project begins now. In this stage of the Project, the fans are going to get their opportunity to really get involved (more precise details on this are coming), and I will continue making connections, speaking to politicians and to the people who make a difference in this town. One thing’s for sure: Montreal is really passionate about their sports and they’re hungry as hell for baseball. You are all going to get your chance to demonstrate just how hungry you are come the fall. Be seeing you around town.