1994: What could have been

Donald Fehr told the players to go home, that it would be a bad look for them to hang around. And so the players scattered like a crowd after a gunshot, the hopes of resuming the season diminishing a little every day.

"Fehr had been beating the drum for a long time," Fletcher says. "There was definitely a feeling that this was it. This was going to be a big one. The owners were asking for too much too fast."

To this day, Van Horne carries a laminated 2x2 card in his wallet with the Expos' 1994 roster and statistics as of Aug. 12. He calls Bud Selig's Sept. 14 news conference canceling the remainder of the season -- World Series and all -- "that dreaded announcement."

The Expos held a reunion in late March this year during an exhibition series between the Blue Jays and Mets at Olympic Stadium. They talked about how different the course of events might have been if they'd been allowed to finish the season. They were on pace to draw 2 million fans, and the team's success had built momentum for a downtown ballpark.

And they're convinced, of course, that a World Series win was inevitable.

"The feeling of being cheated grew on us over the years," Berry says. "The time frame for most athletes is limited. You don't have years to give away. That team probably would have saved baseball in Montreal."

Williams treats the lost season as a source of amusement, as if he alone sees the disconnect between perception and reality. Gwynn might have lost his best chance at .400, but his talent made it a possibility every year.

The Expos are different. Relegated to a footnote in an unfinished history, they were deprived of something more important than a few games and a chance for the World Series.

"Here's the biggest travesty of the whole deal," Fletcher says. "I don't have any specific memories of any one game or play or hit. The body of work was neat, but when we get together we can't say, 'We lost the third game of the World Series, but we came back and won anyway.' It cost us pinpointing that one moment.

"Isn't that kind of sad?"

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