What kind of Brewers fan skips a trip to spring training in sunny Arizona for a jaunt to Montreal in “spring”? Probably the only things that would get me to Montreal in March would be frequent flyer miles and the Milwaukee Brewers playing exhibition games.
The temperatures in Montreal this past week were colder than those in Milwaukee. But as a seasoned Midwestern baseball fan, I was ready for the chilly temps with my springtime Milwaukee Brewers gear.
This year’s Toronto Blue Jays exhibition series in Montreal versus the Milwaukee Brewers was a 50th anniversary celebration of the Expos arrival in Montreal. Since this is an annual exhibition for the neighboring Blue Jays, most of the baseball gear seen was Blue Jays. There were a dozen or so Brewers fan sightings. But Montreal baseball fans still love the Expos and for every Blue Jays jersey, there was an Expos jersey. There is a group working on building a new stadium in Montreal, along with the hope of bringing back MLB as well.
There were pre-game ceremonies honoring former Expos’ greats – including Felipe Alou, Dennis Martinez, Ross Grimsley, Coco Laboy, and a posthumous recognition of “Le Grand Orange”, Rusty Staub. When the Expos fans really like a guy, they use the seat next to them to loudly bang out their appreciation.
While the Brewers won the first game in the series 10-2, the beer selection at Olympic stadium was less than stellar. The event was sponsored by a major brewer in St. Louis who shall remain nameless. I stuck it out and searched for something less offensive to my discriminating palate. I finally came upon a kiosk in the bowels of the stadium for Quebec brewer Archibald. Trust me, in a place that seats sixty thousand, there are a lot of bowels. (Side note: You can also find the Canadian staple dish poutine at the concessions stands. You’ll find better poutine outside of the stadium so maybe stick with pizza.)
Montreal is a good sports city. They don’t have their MLB team back yet, but when they do, they will have the fans. I skipped the Tuesday game in favor of a Canadiens game. The scene across town is more like a Packers game. The fans at both the baseball game and the hockey game are home team fans. They were glad to entertain fans from all over North America.
Everyone should go to Montreal even if it’s March. Forget that the weather might be cold — the people are warm. They are nice, helpful, and friendly. Go to a Canadiens game. Go during the Olympic Stadium baseball exhibition before they build a new stadium and tear down a piece of history.
Montrealers pronounce Montreal as mun-tree-all (or like Munson, Thurman). I consider this a potato – patatao thing, but I’ll defer to their articulation. And whereas I, a native of a Great Lakes port city, call it the St. Lawrence Seaway, in Montreal they call it the St. Lawrence River, which of course, is what it is. I just assumed everyone called it a “seaway” – so tomato – tamate.
I haven’t heard of any plans to demolish Olympic stadium, but fans spoke of it as it was a relic. Perhaps if I lived here, I would see the stadium through their eyes. Apparently, the excitement of the 1976 Olympics is not reason enough to keep a stadium around.