Diligent Dreamer: Former Expo Cromartie Pushes for MLB's Return to Montréal
Warren Cromartie carries a torch like Don Quixote carried a lance.
One of the more popular and productive players during the Montréal Expos' heyday -- yes, they actually had one -- is determined to bring major league baseball back to La Belle Province. It's hard not to be sympathetic. The Expos were wildly popular during their first years of existence in a city with a rich baseball history -- it's where Jackie Robinson made his debut in the 'white' game -- and Cromatie believes they can be successful again.
The Expos were MLB's first foray into Canada, coming to life in baseball's expansion binge of 1969 along with the Seattle Pilots, San Diego Padres, and Kansas City Royals. Their cultural surroundings were such a novelty that even the distinguished sports journalist Heywood Hale Broun felt compelled to weigh in:
But, zoot alors! It wouldn't last.
First, the city itself blundered by relocating the team from the cozy confines of downtown's popular Jarry Park to that mausoleum of a stadium from the Olympics that gave the team its name. Then came the lockout of 1994 that cancelled the World Series, one that the 'Spos might have won. A downward spiral ensued, which resulted in MLB and Bud Selig working behind the scenes -- facilitated by carpetbagger Jeffrey Loria -- to move the team. The facts were there, local businesses attempted legal action to keep the franchise there, but it was too little, too late, and the club became the Washington Nationals.
Gone, but not forgotten, hardcore fans of the Expos have been trying for some time to re-kindle MLB's attention:
So Cromartie soldiers on, accumulating elements here and there that he believes serve to justify his quest.
Even if the former 'Spo rounds up the investors, what are the odds of actually getting another team? The A's want to move from Oakland, and their designs on San José were just scuttled. However, they're still weighing their local options. There's no indication MLB wants to expand, but even if they do, Montréal doesn't appear on the list of top candidates.
For now, there's not much for Expos advocates to do but reminisce. That includes the team's legendary spaceman, Bill Lee, refused to believe they'd move, right up to the very end, which was a bitter coda indeed.
By then, of course, the Marlins belonged to Jeffrey Loria.