One of the fonder memories of my youth is a 1994 road trip with my dad to Montréal, where along with my brother and dad’s buddy Jim, I got to see my first Major League Baseball game. Being from Halifax, where pro-level fan-ship tends to come from regional proximity, my brother and I were big Expos fans. They were the top team in baseball that year, and we had tickets to 2 games of a triple-header against the second place Atlanta Braves. Catchers Club seats for game one, 3rd baseline for game two, Ken Hill beat Greg Maddux and the Expos won both games. It was rad.
I left Montréal about as jacked up as a 10 year old can be, with high hopes that my Expos could help calm the tense Anglo/ Franco relations of Quebec, perhaps even do away with the separatist movement all together should they win the World Series. Then about a month later baseball went on strike, and to mine and many’s horror, Expos ownership threw away their team with a bunch of insane fire sales. My hopes and dreams for The ‘Spos died that year, and 11 year old me would later go on to site this as a primary reason behind the 1995 Referendum. With that – I stopped watching baseball.
Much time has passed since that summer, and I imagine many of us Expos fans have moved on with our lives, leaving behind a slew of ‘what if’s’ and ‘coulda beens’. But as Tyler Gray is about to show, turns out for many the dream is alive and well.
I got a call from Kate at ESPN Magazine back in mid July wondering if I could shoot the gathering of over 1000 hardcore Montréal Expos fans at the Sky Dome the following weekend. In short the Jays were playing the Rays and this hardcore “Expos Nation” group was trying to make an impression on MLB and sending a message that they wanted their team back.
Considering the Tampa Bay Rays poor attendance and lousy management, this gathering was well calculated and certainly a big step toward luring a franchise back north of the border. Not knowing exactly what I was getting into, I was a bit hesitant in saying yes to Kate at first.
This wasn’t a simple portrait in some dudes office. Would the roof be open? Could I bring lighting into the stadium? Would the fans give me what Kate wanted me to capture? These were all unknown variables that make editorial assignments very exciting but also insanely nerve racking. Ultimately everything worked out really well (as it always does) and we captured some really fun and cool moments. ~TG
Photographer: Tyler Gray
Client: ESPN Magazine
Associate Photo Editor: Kate Marron
Of course with such an event taking place there was sure to be some news coverage, and sure enough Tyler can be spotted working away (wearing red) in media images from both Dave Abel (Toronto Sun) and Frank Gunn (Canadian Press). Here’s a look along with a tear from ESPN Magazine featuring some of Tyler’s work.
Big thanks to ESPN’s Kate Marron for giving Tyler a great time with Expos Nation, and to Tyler for sharing the work. Enjoy the day folks.
Images © Tyler Gray
BTS Images © Dave Abel & Frank Gunn