- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 12, 2002

Fred Malek, Bill Collins and Dan Snyder all want to buy the floundering Montreal Expos and move them to the Washington area. But those multimillionaires had better watch out for the kids from Philadelphia.
Feb.5 was one of those typical nights at the college newspaper not enough sleep and plenty of time to procrastinate putting out the next day's edition.
The topic was baseball, and that's when University of Pennsylvania senior Jesse Spector and fellow Daily Pennsylvanian writers Sebastian Stockman and Jonathan Shazar got the idea to save the Expos from the contraction proposed by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
"We were sitting around the office talking baseball and the Expos came up," recalled Spector, a 21-year-old New York Yankees fan from Brooklyn. "None of us liked the idea of contraction. We figured if enough people kicked in $15, we could buy the Expos. Seventeen people in the office that night pledged $456, and that's how we got started.
It started out as a joke, but once we set up a Web site, we got 40,000 hits in five days."
In three weeks, https://buytheexpos.poptopix.com had garnered $1.3million in pledges from 6,000 people. The first national publicity, a Feb.22 article on ESPN.com by former Penn sportswriter Alan Schwarz, gave the site another huge boost.
To date, Spector and Co. have collected $3.2million in pledges the largest is $20,000 from a Penn alumnus, Class of 1992 from about 15,000 fans from as far away as Micronesia, as well as a boatload of media attention.
"It has been a blast," Spector said. "The weirdest thing was being interviewed by an English radio station. When we went to Montreal to see the Expos play the Mets last month, ESPN followed us, and we were featured on 'Baseball Tonight.'
"That was a highlight. We've gotten a great response from fans in Quebec. They might not go to the games because they feel that the Expos' management hasn't given them its best effort, but they still love baseball. They thought that what we're trying to do was pretty cool."
No one in Selig's office could be reached for comment, and an Expos spokeswoman said, chuckling, "It's a cute idea, but there's nothing to it."
The powers that be may be dismissive, but Spector has become a celebrity of sorts.
"When the basketball team won at Cornell late in the season, I asked [Penn coach] Fran Dunphy how the victory would affect the next game against Princeton," Spector said. "He said, 'Spector, if I knew that, I'd have enough money to buy the Expos.' I walked into a final exam last week after the article in Philadelphia Magazine had come out and the professor said, 'Aren't you famous.' I haven't gotten any dates through this, but it is a topic of conversation."


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