Saturday, 3 May 2014

Matthew Ross speech from the Montreal Baseball Project Gala honouring the 1994 Expos

The following is my speech from the March 29, 2014 Gala that honoured the 1994 Montreal Expos, as put on by the Montreal Baseball Project:

Bon soir. first I want to thank the Montreal Baseball Project, the Montreal Board of Trade, Ernst & Young and BCF for their tireless and ongoing efforts to bring baseball back. 

In the fall of 1993, when I was 15, the Expos finished the season on a torrid pace, narrowly missing the promised land. It created a ripple in the Montreal sports scene, a real curiosity. But with the Canadiens still ruling as the reigning NHL champs, Nos Amours were still a distant second fiddle among my peers. It wasn't cool to wear Expos hat or shirts. 

And then 1994 happened. By June, it was hard to ignore the special feeling that was beginning to grip the city. All of a sudden, not only were the Expos cool, but they IT! Teens were staying out late and going to the Big Owe on school nights, and the once skeptical guy next to me in homeroom now had a Larry Walker jersey. 

And then it happened, the season was gone and so too was the magic. Or was it? 20 years later, the story of the 1994 Expos has reached mythical proportions. They are the James Dean of baseball history, having died young and never reaching full potential. 

But out of this unfulfilled season has risen immortality. Much like the spirit of Gary Carter, it's something that both the Montreal Baseball Project and ExposNation have and will continue to draw on.

A full 20 years after the 94 Expos were beginning to light the fire of sports fans  in this city, if today's pre-game reaction at Olympic Stadium was any indication, I think it's safe to say they have helped to make the game cool again in Montreal. 

From the bottom of mine and my committee's hearts, merci beaucoup.