MONTREAL -- Sporting an Expos uniform top and perched back on the mound where his legend started, it was only fitting that Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez delivered the ceremonial first pitch of this weekend's festivities at Olympic Stadium between the Red Sox and Blue Jays.After Martinez's ceremonial first
MONTREAL -- Sporting an Expos uniform top and perched back on the mound where his legend started, it was only fitting that Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez delivered the ceremonial first pitch of this weekend's festivities at Olympic Stadium between the Red Sox and Blue Jays.
After Martinez's ceremonial first pitch in Boston's 4-2 win in 10 innings on Friday, Tim Raines -- another Expos legend -- threw one.
Before long, the Red Sox and Blue Jays took over.
But the packed house couldn't get enough of the pregame trip down memory lane, and neither could the players involved. Vladimir Guerrero, Marquis Grissom, Ellis Valentine and Jose Vidro were also on the field.
"It says a lot about the legacy and the passion, and the things we were accustomed to seeing," Martinez said. "The reaction out there tonight, we lived it every single time we took the field. To see that the people still remember and care, and love us the same way, it's a huge sign of love and admiration from both sides -- from us to them and from them to us."
As Martinez first ran on to the field, he pounded his heart with one fist while raising the other in the air to the fans. Meanwhile, the sound of Skylar Grey singing "I'm Coming Home" played poignantly on the stadium speakers.
Remember that Martinez won the first of his three career Cy Young Awards while wearing an Expos uniform in 1997. He was traded to Boston later in that offseason. The Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals in 2005.
"It was great," Martinez said of the way the crowd received him on Friday. "It was a moment that I was waiting for since '97. I remember I was handed my trophy as a Cy Young winner and the only one in the Expos history and not being able to share it with the fans and with the team and the people here was kind of sad for me.
"This time around, when everything is over and I'm already in the Hall of Fame, I can say that this is paying back for the fans for what they did. And Montreal was the team that built me to become who I was."
Martinez has a deep hope that Montreal can get the new stadium it needs to get a Major League team again. He said so to the crowd and then elaborated in his news conference during the early innings.
"I wanted to at any point that I could make a statement and say that Montreal is a baseball place," Martinez said. "When I was introduced to Montreal, this was the kind of atmosphere that I was introduced to. I remember the '94 team having 47,000 to 50,000 every day. Then, they were robbed of their team. If you continue to just take the good players out, what interest is going to be there for the fans?
"I know what it's all about and I know Montreal, and I know Montreal is a baseball city."
Though Martinez has a "B" on his Hall of Fame plaque representing the Red Sox, he is sincere in saying his time in Montreal should not be forgotten.
"I owe Montreal and the organization everything I did in baseball," Martinez said. "Because I remember being in the Dodgers' organization and they never thought of me as someone who would probably succeed. So the city of Montreal and the organization supported me from the first time I landed in Montreal.
"And what I'm seeing tonight is not surprising. We just needed a good team for the fans to come and support. I'm hoping if we ever get baseball back in Montreal, which I think will happen, that we know better about keeping the good players and keeping the franchise intact."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com.