5/9/00 and 5/10/00 at Olympic Stadium

Last offseason I posted a bunch of “Turn Back The Clock” blog entries about games I attended in now-defunct stadiums. Two months ago, when MLB announced that Olympic Stadium would host two exhibition games in March 2014, several people asked me to blog about my experience there. Now that the World Series is done and I have some free time, let’s do it — a trip back in time to May 9, 2000 . . .

I woke up in Toronto that day (having just attended two games at SkyDome) and flew to Montreal. I remember that the weather was crappy, and I remember not giving a damn. In fact, I was glad. After all, what’s the point of being trapped inside an ugly, domed stadium if it’s not protecting you from a few raindrops, eh?

The stadium wasn’t just ugly. It was downright bizarre. Here’s a photo of it that I took as my taxi rolled up:

2_outside_olympic_stadium

See what I mean?

Here’s a better photo that I took after getting out and walking around:

3_outside_olympic_stadium

It might not look huge from this angle, but that weird tower is 175 meters tall. That’s 574 feet, making it the largest inclined tower in the world.

The area surrounding the stadium was desolate:

4_outside_olympic_stadium

Then again, the same could be said of the interior; the paid attendance at this game was only 8,845, but you know what? I’m not gonna bash the people of Montreal for not showing up. Why? Because it’s hard to pay when you can’t even find the ticket office. Olympic Stadium was confusing, and since there was no one to ask, I ended up wandering aimlessly for quite some time. Eventually I found it and was pleased to learn that there were only two price options in the entire stadium: $8 and $16. I bought the “expensive” seat and headed inside for batting practice.

The layout of the stadium was awful for ballhawking. The bleachers were deep, the outfield wall was too high, and the cross-aisle at the front of the section felt crowded even with just a few other people positioned nearby. Combine those challenges with the fact that the gates opened just 90 minutes early, and I had a disappointing lack of opportunities.

The Expos were jogging off as I ran out to left field, so all of my baseballs came from the Phillies — three toss-ups from Trever Miller, Robert Person, and Kevin Sefcik, and a home  run that I caught on the fly. After BP, I got my fifth ball of the day at the 3rd-base dugout from Phillies coach Ramon Henderson.

Between BP and the game, I wandered and took a few photos from the 1st-base side. Here’s one . . .

5_olympic_stadium_1B_side

. . . and here’s another:

6_olympic_stadium_1B_side

Those two photos can be combined to make a really lame panorama:

7_olympic_stadium_panorama

By the way, did you notice the size of the “crowd”? The stadium was practically empty, so if I only snagged four balls during BP, you can imagine how tough it was.

Here’s a look at the seats on the 1st-base side:

8_olympic_stadium_1B_side

I didn’t take any photos from the upper deck because it was closed. (I vaguely recall trying unsuccessfully to sneak up there at one point for a foul ball during the game.)

Shortly before game time, I took a photo of Hideki Irabu warming up for his start:

9_hideki_irabu_warming_up

Then I got some some random person to take my picture near the dugout:

10_zack_at_olympic_stadium

Ugh! Blurry! Thanks a lot, random person with shaky hands and no camera skills. That said, I’m even more disappointed with myself for not taking *any* photos inside (or even outside) Olympic Stadium after that — nothing during the game, after the game, or even the following day. WHAT. THE. HELL. WAS. I. THINKING.

All I can say is that the Expos scored three runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to win, 3-2. There were two homers during the game, and I was nowhere near them. Ron Gant hit the first one in the top of the 6th and Vladimir Guerrero went yard in the bottom of the 9th.

After the final out, I found a bunch of ticket stubs:

11_olympic_stadium_ticket_stubs

In general, I used to ask people for their stubs on the way out, but because everyone seemed to speak French at Olympic Stadium, I didn’t bother. I remember all the announcements during the game being in French. It was weird. And fun.

As for my second game in Montreal, I’ll let my journal do most of the talking at the end of this entry. For now, I’ll just list the balls that I snagged:

1) Thrown during BP by Expos pitcher Matt Blank in left field.
2) Thrown on the 3B side by Phillies pitching coach Galen Cisco.
3) Glove trick for a ball on a wooden platform behind the left field wall.
4) Thrown by Phillies outfielder Rob Ducey in left field.
5) Tossed at the 3B dugout by Phillies catcher Tom Prince after infield practice.

(I miss the days when teams took infield/outfield after BP. Sometimes both teams would do it, so I’d have two bonus opportunities to snag baseballs right after BP — one at each dugout. The biggest challenge was always getting past the crabby ushers, but anything was possible.)

6) Pre-game toss-up at the 1B dugout from Expos 3rd baseman Michael Barrett.
7) Foul ball hit by Bobby Abreu in the 3rd inning; grabbed after it landed.

(The fans in Montreal were inconceivably passive about snagging baseballs. Most of them didn’t bother getting up out of their seats to chase foul balls that landed near them. One man didn’t even care enough to reach down and pick up a ball that was slowly trickling past him on an empty staircase during the game. WTF?!)

8) Foul ball down the LF line by an Expos batter; tossed into the seats by Ron Gant.
9) Post-game toss-up at the 3B dugout from some random guy with the Phillies.

(That was lifetime ball No. 1,565.)

The Phillies won, 8-0, behind a four-hit shutout by Robert Person. Then I found some more ticket stubs on the way out:

14_olympic_stadium_ticket_stubs

Oh! I nearly forgot. Before the game, I got a few autographs on the previous days’ stubs. Here’s the best one:

12_vladimir_guerrero_autograph

That’s Vladimir Guerrero’s autograph.

Here’s another good one from Ugueth Urbina:

13_ugueth_urbina_autograph

I’m not sure what the deal is with the $6 ticket. Maybe someone had purchased it with a coupon or at a discounted rate through group sales? Well . . . whatever. Check out my original, handwritten journal entries about these two games. The first one starts here when I woke up in Toronto:

15_journal_volume64_page35

These next two pages cover my travel to Montreal and confusion outside the stadium:

16_journal_volume64_page36_37

Here’s where I wrote about snagging my first few baseballs:

17_journal_volume64_page38_39

Here I am using Spanish on one page and getting confused by French on the other:

18_journal_volume64_page40_41

Please forgive all the bleeps. Certain things just can NOT be shared:

19_journal_volume64_page42_43

Here’s the start of a new entry about Day 2:

20_journal_volume64_page44_45

Here’s where I snagged two game-used balls:

21_journal_volume64_page46_47

Here are more details about my attempt to sneak into the upper deck, preceded by a funny story about an annoying fan . . .

22_journal_volume64_page48_49

. . . and here’s where it ends:

23_journal_volume64_page50_51

Anyone planning to be in Montreal next year for the exhibition games? (I’ll be in Australia.) If so, I hope this blog entry has given you an idea of what to expect, and for the rest of you, I simply hope it was entertaining.

Finally, here are my other “Turn Back The Clock” entries. Enjoy . . .

1) June 11, 1993 at Candlestick Park
2) June 11, 1996 at Shea Stadium
3) July 2, 1998 at Cinergy Field
4) July 10, 1998 at Tiger Stadium
5) July 13, 1998 at County Stadium
6) July 14, 1998 at Busch Stadium
7) May 29, 1999 at the Kingdome
8) July 18, 1999 at the Astrodome
9) September 24-25, 1999 at the Metrodome
10) July 17-18, 2000 at Qualcomm Stadium

13 Comments

I’m definitely planning to go to the series in Montreal… which is about a three hours drive from where I live. I believe Chris Hernandez and Todd Cook are also going. It’s definitely been on my bucket list to see a game there… I was ecstatic when I heard the news. I really hope I’m able to go.

I’ll be there in March. I need to get a passport, but how hard can that be? It won’t count or anything but I feel like it’s something I need to experience.

You blacked out the best parts!

And yes, I’ll be there in March, for both games.

Awesome Zack! Of course I’ll be there in march(I live couple subway stations from the stadium!) It’ll be my 16th MLB stadium. I also plan to go see the Mets in New York somewhere in August. I’ll try to see you there. Thanks again for your entry, it is truly helpful to have a ballhawking point of view before entering the stadium. -Michael

yeah. I lived in Ottawa for 3 years in the late 80’s/early 90’s and we would go to Expo games. The place was horrible. The area around it was full of drug users and ..er .. ladies of easy virtue. And there was NEVER anyone there. I don’t remember the upper decks being open, so it sounds pretty similar to your experiences.

Quick ?. Could have sworn I read something one time in a blog entry about exchanging paper tickets for hard copies at the ticket offices. Like stubhub bought ones. Am I remembering this correctly? Someone from stubhub told me that I couldn’t exchange for hard copies

BDWEINGARTEN-
I hope you make it too so you can tell me about it. Sounds like it’s going to be a mini-ballhawk convention.

GREG BARASCH-
Getting a passport isn’t hard, but it can take time, so get on it.

CH1088-
Some things are just not share-able. Some things make *me* cringe when I read them all these years later, so imagine how strangers would react. It would be bad.

MICHAEL-
You’re welcome. Let me know how it goes, and hopefully we’ll cross paths over the summer.

VISCOSITY-
Ha, nice wording. Thanks for confirming that my experience there wasn’t a fluke.

MIKE-
Sorry, but I have no idea how that works.

Sadly Montreal has chosen to be awful just like all of Europe. Plus it’s cold. No reason to ever go there. There’s honestly no reason to go east of Anaheim.

Whats this about the whores? 20 $ to spend on the ,thats when the whores come ? There is no life east of I 5 is the saying in Cali unless u go to Phx for ballgames/ concerts . Tommy boy like

The thought of going to Montreal is certainly tempting. Big Glove Bob loves crappy domes. The only problem is that I don’t like to fly and it would be too long of a drive, especially solo. I checked on flights and they are kind of pricely and long. So, I think I will be living vicariously through those that go and blog about it. I wonder if MLB will have a commemorative ball for the tilts?

ROB LOWE-
Hi, nice to see you here on the blog.

BIG GLOVE BOB-
If I had to predict, I’d guess that there *will* be a commemorative ball. Remember when the Rockies had one for their new Spring Training facility a few years ago? C’mon, that’s not nearly as big as this whole Montreal thing.

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