Part I: Stade Olympique
This visit was possible thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays, so I want to thank them publicly. Also, they have some of the best people working for their organization… more on that later. After last season’s journey, I waited patiently for the regular season schedule to come out so I could start planning for the other fifteen ballparks. Additionally, I took a peek at the pre-season schedule and saw something that piqued my interest. The Cincinnati Reds and Blue Jays were to play two exhibition games at the old Olympic Stadium in Montreal! This wasn’t a ballpark I ever made it out to, and I quickly asked the masses. Would this count as another stadium to see a ballgame in despite the fact the team that used to play there is now in Washington, DC? The answer was a resounding “YES!” That meant I would be visiting 16 other stadiums during this season instead of 15. Plus, with the usual games at Los Angeles and Anaheim, I would visit 18 different ballparks in one season. This was beginning to get really insane as I saw that this trip was not only possible, but a very strong possibility. Visiting this many ballparks in a span of five to six months may seem like an insurmountable task to the vast majority of baseball fans out there. However, with a great group of supportive friends and colleagues, this was looking like I could actually do this.
Planning for this was a bit difficult because of the hockey season and my work schedule. Luckily, I had a vacation around that time and could take a couple additional days off. Even more lucky, I would be able to revolve this around other work I already had going on and would just mosey to Montreal on the back end of an East Coast trip that was mostly planned. All the dominoes were falling into place.
Fast forward months later, and after a great trip to New York, I took the train up to Montreal on April Fool’s Day. This train ride was no joke, the scenery was that beautiful looking outside. Snow-filled woods surrounded me on a breathtaking train ride. Ultimately, I’m glad I took the train instead of a plane because it saved me money and gave me time to catch up on some writing and e-mails. I had arrived in Montreal armed with a fluency of the French language and quite a bit of Canadian money. I was ready for this short trip.
Ballpark 16: Olympic Stadium in Montreal, elevation 30 metres
The game: Reds @ Blue Jays on April 3, 2015
The buzz around this game was very real as soon as I arrived in Montreal. First off, half of the TV stations were in French, and even some of them were talking about the upcoming games at Olympic Stadium. When I arrived, it was Wednesday. I attended a Montreal Canadiens game on Thursday, and one of the guests of honor at Centre Bell was former Expo, Vladimir Guerrero. He got a very loud standing ovation and is considered one of the finest players to ever put on a Montreal Expos jersey. Another fantastic story to come out of there was the return of Russell Martin to his home town of Montreal. He was also at the hockey game and got another standing ovation. Apparently, he stayed with his family while he was there and painted the town blue, as it were. In fact, he rode the Montreal subways around town just like when he was a kid.
After the hockey game, I looked ahead to Friday’s big game at “The O” where over 40,000 fans were expected to watch a pre-season game. Because of the recent snow, walking around was a bit tough. But, I left with enough time to buy myself a Montreal Expos hat, get my scorebook stamped from Olympic Stadium, and take a good look in and around the stadium.
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