|Established||1969 (Expansion team)|
|Relocated December 3, 2004 (to Washington, D.C., as the Washington Nationals)|
|Team logo||Cap insignia|
|Major league affiliations|
 – The Expos played twenty-two home games in San Juan during the 2003 and 2004 seasons, and the remainder in Montreal.
|Major league titles|
|World Series titles (0)||None|
|NL pennants (0)||None|
|East Division titles (1)||1981|
|Wild Card berths (0)||None|
| – In 1981, a players' strike in the middle of the season forced the season to be split into two halves. Montreal won the division in the second half, despite having the second best record in the division when considering the entire season, two games behind St. Louis.
 – In 1994, a players' strike wiped out the last eight weeks of the season and all post-season. Montreal was in first place by six games in the National League East Division when play was stopped. No official titles were awarded in 1994.
|Other team information|
|Retired numbers||8, 10, 10, 30, 42|
|Mascot||Souki (1978), Youppi! (1979–2004)|
|Theme Song||Les Expos sont là ("The Expos are here") by Marc Gélinas|
|Rivals||New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays (interleague play)|
The Montreal Expos (French: Les Expos de Montréal) were a Canadian professional baseball team based in Montreal, Quebec that played from 1969 through 2004. The Expos were awarded the first Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise outside the United States. After the 2004 season, Major League Baseball moved the Expos to Washington, D.C. and renamed them the Nationals.
Named after the Expo 67 World's Fair, the Expos started play at Jarry Park Stadium under manager Gene Mauch. The team's initial majority owner was Charles Bronfman, a major shareholder in Seagram. Following the 1976 Summer Olympics, starting in 1977 the team's home venue was Montreal's Olympic Stadium. After a decade of losing seasons, the team won 95 games in 1979, finishing second in the National League (NL) East division. The Expos began the 1980s with a core group of young players, including catcher Gary Carter, outfielders Tim Raines and Andre Dawson, third baseman Tim Wallach, and pitchers Steve Rogers and Bill Gullickson. The team won its only division championship in the strike-shortened split season of 1981, ending its season with a 3 games to 2 series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series (NLCS).
After a number of up-and-down seasons, the team was sold to a consortium of owners in 1991, with Claude Brochu as the managing general partner. Buck Rodgers, manager since the 1985 season and, at that time, second only to Gene Mauch in number of Expos games managed, was replaced early in the 1991 season. In May 1992, Felipe Alou, a longtime member of the Expos organization since 1976, was promoted to field manager, becoming the first Dominican-born manager in MLB history. Alou would become the leader in Expos games managed while guiding the team to winning records, including 1994, when the Expos, led by a talented group of players including Larry Walker, Moisés Alou, Marquis Grissom and Pedro Martínez, had the best record in the major leagues until the strike forced the cancellation of the remainder of the season. After the disappointment of 1994, Expos management began shedding its key players, and the team's fan support dwindled. Brochu sold control of the team to Jeffrey Loria in 1999, but Loria failed to close on a plan to build a new downtown ballpark, and did not reach an agreement on television and English radio broadcast contracts for the 2000 season, reducing the team's media coverage.
In November 2001, Major League Baseball owners voted 28–2 to eliminate two teams—according to various sources, the Expos and the Minnesota Twins, both of which reportedly voted against the motion. However, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, operator of Minnesota's Metrodome, received an injunction requiring the Twins to play in the Metrodome during 2002, so MLB could not shut down the Expos alone while easily preserving its 162-game schedule. In December, the Boston Red Sox accepted a purchase bid from a group led by John W. Henry, owner of the Florida Marlins, and so Henry sold the Marlins to Loria, and MLB bought the Expos from Loria. In the collective bargaining agreement signed with the Players Association in August 2002, reducing the number of teams was prohibited through to the end of the contract in 2006.
On September 29, 2004, the date of Montreal's last home game of the season, MLB announced that the Montreal franchise would relocate to Washington, D.C. for the 2005 season. The Expos played their final game on October 3, 2004 at Shea Stadium, losing by a score of 8–1 against the New York Mets, the same opponent that the Expos first faced at its start, 35 seasons earlier. The relocated team was named the Washington Nationals, and retained all the Expos' records, player contracts, and minor league affiliates, as well as their spring training complex in Viera, Florida.
- 1 Franchise history
- 2 Notable games
- 3 No-hitters
- 4 Baseball Hall of Famers
- 5 Retired numbers
- 6 Expos in the Washington Nationals Ring of Honor
- 7 Team captains
- 8 Broadcasters
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Creation of the franchise
In 1960, Montreal lost its International League team, the Montreal Royals, a Los Angeles Dodgers Triple A affiliate, when the Dodgers decided to cut back from three top-level farm teams to only two. They also wanted their top affiliates based closer to Los Angeles. The move to get a new team for Montreal was the result of a seven-year-long effort led by Gerry Snyder, who at the time was the member from the district of Snowdon on Montreal City Council. Snyder was a high-profile figure in Montreal during the 1960s and 1970s. In addition to representing Snowdon on council from 1957 to 1982, Snyder chaired the city's Executive Committee during the 1960s, served as Mayor Jean Drapeau's primary liaison to the English-speaking community, and was instrumental in bringing both the 1976 Summer Olympics and the Formula One Grand Prix of Canada to the city.
Snyder presented a bid for a Montreal franchise to Major League Baseball's team owners at their 1967 December meeting in Mexico City. One potential wildcard in Montreal's favour was that the chair of the National League's expansion committee was influential Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, under whom the Royals had become affiliated with the Dodgers. On May 27, 1968, O'Malley announced that franchises were being awarded to Montreal and San Diego, to begin play the following year (1969).
Snyder convinced Charles Bronfman, a major shareholder in the worldwide Seagram distilling empire, to lend his considerable weight to the project. Bronfman felt that the team needed a francophone as chairman of the board and the public face of the ownership group, and tapped financier Jean-Louis Lévesque, the only for the post. Years later, Bronfman said that Lévesque was the only investor besides himself that had any leadership ability. Snyder initially thought he'd lined up a consortium of 10 partners, but only six showed up for the initial owners' meeting on June 3--a harbinger of things to come. Lévesque grew frustrated with the ownership group's inaction and pulled out on July 31. To make up the shortcoming in financing, Bronfman purchased the majority of the franchise's stock and became chairman. The other investors and founding directors included vice-chairmen Lorne Webster and Paul Beaudry, plus Sydney Maislin, Hugh G. Hallward, Charlemagne Beaudry (Paul's brother), and team President and Executive Director John McHale.
With its long history of use in Montreal, "Royals" was one of the nicknames considered for the new franchise, but the Kansas City team had already adopted this name. Many names were suggested by Montreal residents (including the "Voyageurs" and, in a coincidental twist, the "Nationals", the name now used by the team in its current home in Washington), but the clear winner was "Expos." In addition to the tie-in with Expo 67, the nickname also had the advantage of having the same spelling in either English or French, the city's two dominant languages.
The Expos had to overcome another obstacle before it could take the field: they had to find a home ballpark. Drapeau had written a letter promising the National League owners that a domed stadium would be ready by the 1971 season. However, city executive committee chairman Lucien Saulnier told Bronfman that Drapeau did not have the power to write such a letter on his own authority. Although the remaining partners had more than enough money to make an initial US$1.12 million payment on the expansion fee, they were not willing to commit a single penny without assurances that a park would be built. Just as the ownership group was about to give up, Drapeau summoned Bronfman to City Hall with plans for a new stadium.
The team still needed a place to play for at least its first two seasons. Delorimier Stadium, the former home of the Montreal Royals, was rejected as unsuitable even for temporary use: it could not be renovated or expanded beyond its 20,000-seat capacity since it was in the middle of a residential area. Team officials initially settled on the Autostade, which had just been built for Expo '67, but city officials balked at the cost of adding a dome and 12,000 seats, as well as demands for increased rent by the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes. By August 1968, the league was threatening to withdraw the franchise and award it to Buffalo, which had a stadium already in place—War Memorial Stadium. Out of desperation, Drapeau invited National League president Warren Giles to visit Jarry Park, a 3,000-seat community ballpark near the centre of the island. Giles liked the park's location, and decided it could be a suitable temporary facility. Within six months, the park was transformed into a 28,500-seat makeshift facility, saving the franchise.
Social impact of the Expos
Montreal's international profile was raised considerably in the 1960s. The 1967 World's Fair, called Expo 67, was a success, and the city soon won the bid for the 1976 Summer Olympics. The city also opened a new subway system, the Montreal Metro. This string of achievements was capped by the winning of one of the four expansion franchises awarded by Major League Baseball for 1969.
The Montreal Expos were the first franchise awarded to a Canadian city by Major League Baseball. It was considered a huge step for the city of Montreal, the province of Quebec, the nation of Canada, and MLB. One of the challenges for French-language broadcasters was inventing a whole new lexicon to describe the game to fans. The Expos' success inspired Major League Baseball to add a second Canadian team, the Toronto Blue Jays, in 1977.
The Expos won their first game, on the afternoon of April 8, 1969, against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, beating the Mets by a score of 11–10. The Expos took the field for the first time with Bob Bailey playing first base, Gary Sutherland playing second base, Maury Wills playing shortstop, Coco Laboy playing third base, Mack Jones playing left field, Don Hahn playing centerfield, Rusty Staub playing right field, John Bateman at catcher and Mudcat Grant on the mound. The first manager was former Philadelphia Phillies manager Gene Mauch. Wills had the first hit in Expos history and also scored the first run. The first home run in franchise history came from an unlikely source — relief pitcher Dan McGinn. Bailey had the first RBI, and Don Shaw was credited with the win. Carroll Sembera pitched the final inning against the Mets and recorded the first save.
The first game at Jarry Park was played on April 14 — an 8–7 Expos win over the St. Louis Cardinals, broadcast nationwide on CBC television and radio. A crowd of 29,184 jammed every corner of Jarry Park to watch the first major league baseball game ever played outside the United States. Jarry was only intended as a three-year temporary facility until what became Olympic Stadium could be completed, and so the stands were left completely exposed to the elements. As a result, the Expos frequently had to postpone games in April and September because there was no protection for the fans. Another problem was its orientation; during night games in April and September, first basemen were often blinded by the setting sun. Eventually, it was decided to stop the game until the sun finished setting. When it became apparent that Olympic Stadium wouldn't be ready for 1972, the league threatened to yank the franchise. However, the Expos managed to get a reprieve at the 1971 winter meetings. They would get a reprieve at all winter meetings until Olympic Stadium was ready for the 1977 season.
Following that first series in Montreal, the Expos went to Philadelphia to play the Phillies. On April 17, Bill Stoneman pitched the first no-hitter in the club's history, as the Expos won 7–0. Stoneman's feat gave the Expos the record for the earliest no-hitter recorded by any major league baseball franchise — only ten days after their very first game. It was Stoneman's fifth major league start and he finished with eight strikeouts and five walks. Stoneman's second no-hitter came at the end of the 1972 season on October 2; he beat the New York Mets in Montreal at Jarry Park. It was the first-ever major league no-hitter pitched in Canada and another 7–0 score, and Stoneman had nine strikeouts (and seven walks).
Rusty Staub and Mack Jones became the darlings of the Montreal fans during the early years of the team. Staub was affectionately known as "Le Grand Orange" (in tribute to his red hair), and with Jones in left field, its bleachers at Jarry Park came to be known as "Jonesville."
Staub was traded in 1972 to the New York Mets in exchange for 3 young prospects: first baseman-outfielder Mike Jorgensen, infielder Tim Foli, and outfielder Ken Singleton. While the trade landed Montreal three youngsters that would help the still maturing expansion team, many Montrealers were saddened to lose a popular player. Staub was reacquired by Montreal in July 1979. At his first game back in Montreal, against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Staub received a long and heartfelt standing ovation from the adoring fans, welcoming "Le Grand Orange" back. Staub left the team for good after the 1979 season. His number 10 was eventually the first one retired by the Expos.
The Expos moved into Olympic Stadium in 1977. Due to its roots as a track-and-field Olympic venue, and its multi-purpose design to serve as home to both the Alouettes and the Expos, the stadium was less than ideal for baseball. As was the case with most multi-purpose stadiums, the different sizes and shapes of baseball and football fields required the lower boxes to be further away from the baseball diamond than with a baseball-specific stadium. In the case of Olympic Stadium (and later, Toronto's Exhibition Stadium and Skydome/Rogers Centre), compared with American stadiums, the problem was exacerbated by the greater length and width of Canadian football fields. The biggest problem was with the planned retractable roof, which was originally supposed to be installed in time for the 1976 Olympics. However, it was not installed until 1987, and did not retract until 1988. Even after completion, it never worked properly. It could not be used at all with winds above 25 miles per hour, and thus could not be closed to allow play to continue during rain accompanied by high winds. By 1992, the Expos and the Régie des Installations Olympiques, the provincial government agency that operates the stadium, decided to leave the roof permanently closed.
The stadium was also notorious for its poor playing conditions. Its AstroTurf carpet was so thin that opposing players frequently ran in a nearby park to ease the toll on their knees, and the padding on the fence put players going after fly balls at great risk of injury. Despite pleading from longtime Expos trainer Ron McClain, the city was not willing to spend the money to replace either the fence or the turf. Before the roof finally arrived, players had to deal with frozen spots on the field. By the 1990s, many free agents were not willing to play in Montreal as a result.
The Expos posted 10 straight losing seasons under Mauch (1969–75), Karl Kuehl and Charlie Fox (1976) and Dick Williams (1977–78). However, in 1979 under Williams the Expos posted a 95–65 record, the most single-season wins by the team in Montreal, and the first of five consecutive winning seasons. The Expos spent 88 days in first place (including 63 in a row) before finishing second in the NL East, two games behind the eventual world champion Pirates.
Promise of the 1980s
The Expos made the only postseason appearance in the Canadian portion of franchise history during the split season of 1981. In the 1981 playoffs, the Expos defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 3–2 in the divisional series, but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 3–2 in the National League Championship Series, on a game postponed from Sunday to Monday afternoon due to rain. The difference in the game was a ninth-inning home run by Dodger Rick Monday. The game has since been referred to as Blue Monday.
Montreal was led through the 1980s by a core group of young players, including catcher Gary Carter, outfielders Tim Raines and Andre Dawson, third baseman Tim Wallach and pitchers Steve Rogers and Bill Gullickson. The promising aspects of the Expos gave rise to the name "Team of the 80s". Attendance at Olympic Stadium went up each year from 1979 to 1983 (excluding the strike year in 1981), and the fans would express their excitement in song — "The Happy Wanderer" being a fan favourite after offensive explosions.
In spite of the team's talent, the Expos were unable to finish above third place from 1982 to 1991. They had up-and-down years, with a winning percentage of .484 in 1984 under managers Bill Virdon and Jim Fanning and 1986 under Buck Rodgers, but above .500 seasons in 1985, 1987, and 1990 under Rodgers.
By the mid 1980s, the Blue Jays had grown increasingly perturbed that the Expos were allowed to televise their games in portions of southern Ontario—an area the Blue Jays considered the heart of their fan base. The Blue Jays pressured MLB to make southern Ontario their exclusive home territory. Commissioner Peter Ueberroth proposed a compromise: the Expos could air 15 games a season in southern Ontario, but would have to pay for the rights to air anything beyond that. Bronfman refused to pay for the rights to additional games, and so for the remainder of their existence the Expos only had full broadcast rights in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, and were mostly shut out of the more lucrative southern Ontario markets. In his book on the Expos, Up, Up, and Away, Grantland contributor and Montreal native Jonah Keri wrote that Bronfman had made a serious blunder by perceiving the Blue Jays as an ally rather than a potential threat, and thus missed a chance to stake out a deal establishing their right to air their games across Canada.
Under new ownership
In the 1989 season, with the Expos vying for a post-season berth, the team traded Gene Harris, Brian Holman, and Randy Johnson to Seattle for Mark Langston. Langston completed the season for the Expos with a 2.39 ERA (tied for the league lead in ERA+ with a 148 rating) and a league-leading 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Though the Expos led the National League East from the end of June to the start of August, and were two games behind first on September 6, they fell back to finish in fourth with a .500 record. Langston, Hubie Brooks, Pascual Pérez, and Bryn Smith left after the season as free agents. Following a winter of rumours, at the start of the 1990 spring training season, Bronfman formally announced his intentions to sell the Expos, saying "After 21 years in baseball it's emotionally very draining. ... After a while, you're just burned out." In November, at the press conference where the sale of the franchise to a local consortium was announced, Bronfman said that 1989 "... was the year we should have won. ... It was a very bitter disappointment." Seagram executive Claude Brochu, the team's President and Chief Operating Officer since September 1986, became the managing general partner of the Expos, representing a consortium of 14 owners, which also included BCE, Canadian Pacific, the city of Montreal, Nesbitt Burns, and Univa (Provigo). The official transfer of ownership occurred on June 14, 1991. However, the other members of the consortium considered their stakes in the team to be the equivalent of charitable donations, and refused to commit any more money beyond their initial investments. Even though Montreal was the fifth-largest market in baseball (behind New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto and Philadelphia), Brochu was forced to adopt a bargain-basement approach to running the team.
With a new ownership group in place, the Expos traded Tim Raines to the Chicago White Sox in a five-player deal that brought Iván Calderón to Montreal. Starting the 1991 season with a 20–29 record, General manager David Dombrowski (who had inherited manager Buck Rodgers upon assuming the GM position in 1988) fired Rodgers and replaced him with Tom Runnells, who completed the season with a record of 51–61 for an overall winning percentage of .441. Runnells switched third baseman Tim Wallach to first base, a move unpopular with the Montreal fans. The season's most notable highlight was the perfect game thrown by Expos pitcher Dennis Martínez against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 28, 1991. On September 8, a 56-ton concrete slab fell from the Olympic Stadium roof to an exterior walkway, forcing the Expos to play their final 13 games on the road.
Dombrowski left Montreal in September to become the General Manager for the Florida Marlins expansion franchise, and Dan Duquette became the Expos general manager. Also during the offseason, the Expos made an effort to improve the baseball atmosphere at Olympic Stadium. Home plate was moved closer to the stands, and new seats were added closer to the field. Several faraway sections beyond the outfield fence were closed, replaced by bleachers directly behind the fence. The changes reduced the stadium's capacity from 58,000 to around 46,000.
At spring training in 1992, Runnells held a meeting while dressed in combat fatigues, giving the team's pre-season training the appearance of a boot camp. The team failed to respond to Runnells's attempt at humor, and Runnells was fired on May 22, with a 17–20 record. Felipe Alou, a longtime member of the Expos organization since 1976, was promoted from bench coach to field manager, becoming the first Dominican-born manager in MLB history. Alou promptly returned Wallach to the third base position. Alou led the team to a 70–55 record, for an overall winning percentage of .537. Under Alou, Montreal had winning records from 1992 to 1996, with the exception of 1995, and the team finished second in the National League East in 1992 and 1993.
Hope and disappointment in 1994
The year 1994 proved to be heartbreaking for the Expos. The team's key contributors included outfielders Larry Walker, Moisés Alou, Marquis Grissom, and Rondell White; infielders Wil Cordero and Sean Berry; starting pitchers Ken Hill, Pedro Martínez, and Jeff Fassero; and the relief corps of Jeff Shaw, Gil Heredia, Tim Scott, Mel Rojas and John Wetteland.
The Expos had the best record in Major League Baseball, 74–40, when the start of a players' strike on August 12, 1994 brought the season to a premature close. The strike dragged on through the fall, forcing the cancellation of the playoffs and World Series. The team was six games ahead of the second place Atlanta Braves and on pace to win 105 games. Years later, Floyd said that the players thought they'd return to the field by early September at the latest. The announcement on September 14 that the season was canceled hit the players and fans particularly hard.
At this point, the consortium's lack of capital investment became a critical issue. Not only did the Expos suffer from the minority partners' refusal to make further investments, but they also had to contend with reduced television revenue from not being able to air their games in southern Ontario. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that while the Expos reported their revenues in Canadian dollars, they had to pay their players in U.S. dollars. Just days after district court judge Sonia Sotomayor scuttled the owners' plans to use replacement players during the 1995 regular season, Brochu instructed general manager Kevin Malone to conduct a fire sale and cut ties with the team's major stars. In a series of transactions that took place between April 5-8, the club severed ties with four of the stars of the 1994 team. Larry Walker left as a free agent, and as the Expos had not offered him salary arbitration, they did not receive any compensation for Walker's departure. John Wetteland was traded to the New York Yankees, Ken Hill to the St. Louis Cardinals, and Marquis Grissom to the Atlanta Braves.
Years later, Brochu said that he didn't want to unload Walker, Wetteland, Hill and Grissom, but the minority partners were not willing to invest any further money. Regardless, the fans were outraged. The Expos' attendance flatlined after the fire sale, dropping 26 percent from 1994. Their average attendance would never top more than 20,000 per game during their last 10 seasons in Montreal.
Kevin Malone resigned as general manager in October 1995, saying "I'm in the building business, not in the dismantling business." Moisés Alou and Mel Rojas left as free agents after the 1996 season, and Pedro Martínez was traded after the 1997 season, shortly after winning the Cy Young Award.
In 1997, Brochu announced plans for a new $250 million, 35,000-seat park in downtown Montreal to be named Labatt Park. It would have been a retro-classic park on the model of Camden Yards in Baltimore, with a brick facade reminiscent of historic Bonaventure Station. The club sought $150 million from the provincial government to finance construction. Brochu let it be known that the Expos could not stay in Montreal unless Olympic Stadium was replaced. Quebec's finance minister, Bernard Landry, appeared receptive to the proposal. However Premier Lucien Bouchard balked, saying he couldn't in good conscience authorize public funding for a stadium when the province was being forced to close hospitals. Additionally, Olympic Stadium still had not been paid for (the debt was not fully retired until 2006).
In 1998, the Régie des installations Olympiques replaced Olympic Stadium's orange retractable roof with a permanent blue roof. The retractable roof was removed after the Expos homestand ending on May 10, and on May 21, the Expos played their first outdoor home game since September 8, 1991. During this time when Olympic Stadium was once again an open-air park, Rondell White became the only player to hit a ball out of Olympic Stadium, driving a foul ball out of the third-base side of the stadium in a game against the New York Yankees.
The Expos had losing seasons until 2002, except for 1996, when the team finished second with a .543 winning percentage. In 2002 and 2003, the team finished with identical .512 records. After losing superstar Vladimir Guerrero to free agency, the Expos finished 2004, the team's final year in Montreal, with a 67–95 record.
Purchase by Jeffrey Loria
On December 9, 1999, American art dealer Jeffrey Loria became the Expos' managing general partner, chairman and CEO, purchasing Claude Brochu's ownership stake, and naming his stepson, David Samson, executive vice-president. Loria made his initial splash by signing Graeme Lloyd for $3,000,000, and acquiring Hideki Irabu's $4,125,000 contract and Lee Stevens's $3,500,000 contract in trades. The total sum of these contracts was nearly 50% of the 1999 payroll. Before the 2000 season, Loria tried to renegotiate the team's radio and television deals. At the time, the Expos were getting the lowest broadcasting revenue in the majors. However, The Sports Network, the team's cable partner since 1985, was only willing to offer $5,000 per game—a pittance compared to the $200,000 received by the Blue Jays. Loria decided to cut ties with CIQC (formerly CFCF), the team's English flagship for all but two years of their existence, but was unable to find a suitable replacement. CJAD, the flagship in 1989 and 1990, only offered a brokerage deal similar to its deals with the Alouettes and Canadiens, where the Expos would pay CJAD for the airtime. CKGM, who had carried the Expos in their inaugural season, made a similar offer, requiring a $1,000 per game fee. While the Expos renewed their French-language radio broadcast deal with the Telemedia network—whose flagship, CKAC, had carried Expos games since 1973—the only English-language broadcast available during the 2000 season was via Internet audiocasts; no television coverage was available in either language. Dave Van Horne, the team's English-language play-by-play announcer since the team's inception, left for the Florida Marlins after the season.
Loria shared Brochu's dissatisfaction with Olympic Stadium, saying soon after he bought the team, "We cannot stay here." Like Brochu, he was very committed to building Labatt Park. Before he formally closed on the purchase, Loria significantly altered the plans for the proposed downtown ballpark, changing it to a more modern design with curved contours and glass. During the 2000 season, Loria requested additional public funding, but Bouchard reaffirmed the Quebec government's previous refusal, given its other budgetary cuts to essential services. Without government funding, the plans for the proposed downtown ballpark were cancelled.
Attendance in the 2001 season dropped to fewer than 10,000 per game (lower than some minor-league teams), raising questions about the franchise's viability in Montreal. Felipe Alou was fired at the end of May, ending his Montreal managerial career with a total of 691 wins, the most of any manager in the franchise's history. On November 6, 2001, MLB's owners voted 28–2 to eliminate two teams—according to various sources, the Expos and the Minnesota Twins, both of which reportedly voted against the motion.
Loria initially owned only 24 percent of the team. However, after a series of cash calls in 2000 and 2001 went unanswered, Loria gradually wound up with a commanding 93 percent of the stock.
Purchase by Major League Baseball
On December 20, 2001, the Boston Red Sox were sold to a partnership led by Marlins owner John W. Henry. The purchase was approved by the MLB owners in January. To clear the way for Henry's group to formally take control of the Red Sox, Henry sold the Marlins to Loria for $158.5 million. The deal, which included a $38.5 million no-interest loan from MLB, was approved by the other owners on February 1, 2002. Loria and the other owners then voted 30–0 to form a Delaware partnership, Expos Baseball, LP, to buy the Expos from Loria for $120 million. After both deals closed, Loria moved virtually all of the Expos front office and on-field staff, including general manager Larry Beinfest and field manager Jeff Torborg, to Miami — leaving the Expos without personnel, scouting reports, and office equipment, including the team's computers. Without a viable owner willing to operate the team in Montreal, it was widely thought that the sale of the Expos to MLB was the first step in the process of either moving the team or folding it altogether.
However, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, operator of the Metrodome, won an injunction requiring the Twins to play there in 2002. Without a second team to join them in oblivion, the loss of the Expos would have left MLB with an odd number of teams, thus requiring one team to be idle every day. With this constraint, it would have been logistically difficult to preserve a 162-game schedule within MLB's six-month season. As MLB could not find a suitable new home for the Expos at that late date, and was not willing to alter the schedule, it was forced to keep the Expos in Montreal for the short term. MLB appointed former Anaheim Angels president Tony Tavares as team president to oversee business operations and oversee a future move of the team, and Mets assistant general manager Omar Minaya as vice-president and general manager to run day-to-day operations. MLB's chief disciplinarian Frank Robinson was appointed as the team's manager.
Minaya, who was the first Latino baseball general manager in MLB history, inherited a difficult situation. He was hired only 72 days before the start of spring training, and there were only six other employees in baseball operations left in Montreal after an exodus to the Marlins and other clubs. Under the circumstances, the Expos made a fairly strong showing, winning 17 of their first 27 games and surging to a first-place tie by the start of May. With the Expos four games above .500 in late June and no clearly defined guidance from MLB on the team's future other than a hard limit on payroll, Minaya decided to pursue a last attempt to bring a championship to Montreal in hopes of attracting a local buyer. He acquired pitcher Bartolo Colón from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for future All-Stars Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore as well as 2008's AL Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee. Despite the gambit, the Expos only finished 83-79, nine games out of a wild card berth. Colón was traded to the Chicago White Sox during the off-season.
For much of the season, it appeared that the Expos would cease to exist once the season ended. According to Keri, the owners ultimately decided to have the Expos and Twins play a lame-duck season in 2002 before they folded. However, in August, the so-called contraction issue was postponed further, as MLB signed a collective bargaining agreement with the players association that prohibited MLB from seeking to reduce the total number of teams, through the end of the agreement in 2006.
In spite of the club's attendance increasing from 7,935 per game in 2001 to 10,031 in 2002, MLB decided that the Expos would play 22 of their 2003 home games in San Juan, Puerto Rico at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, whose capacity of approximately 19,000 seats was less than half the size of Montreal's Olympic Stadium. Attendance in San Juan averaged 14,222, compared with 12,081 in Montreal. The Puerto Rican baseball fans embraced "Los Expos" (particularly Puerto Rican players José Vidro, Javier Vázquez and Wil Cordero, and other Latin players like Vladimir Guerrero and Liván Hernández) as their home team (as well as the Latin players from other teams), all the while hoping the team would make a permanent move to Puerto Rico. Thanks in part to the San Juan games, the Expos were able to draw over a million fans at home in 2003 for the first time since 1997. The Expos' season in Puerto Rico was chronicled in the MLB-produced DVD Boricua Beisbol — Passion of Puerto Rico.
Led by Vladimir Guerrero, the 2003 Expos were part of a spirited seven-team Wild Card hunt. On August 28, they found themselves in a five-way tie for the lead with Philadelphia, Florida, St. Louis, and Houston. However, with the Expos' spending already over budget, Tavares wasn't given an additional $50,000 to call up players from the Expos' farm system to fill the expanded roster limit during September. Several players, including relief pitcher Eric Knott, were sent back to the minors to maintain the team's approximately $35 million budget. This doomed any hopes of reviving the franchise. Minaya later said, "Baseball handed down a decree"—the Expos would not be allowed to call up players from the minors on September 1, as it was deemed too expensive. Minaya and Robinson would have to make do with what they had. "It was a message to the players," Minaya said. "It was a momentum killer." He also stated: "They're a tough group of guys. You cannot ever forget 2003; they were as good as the Marlins, who won the World Series. But nobody knows this because nobody saw Montreal in 2003. What killed us was not getting the call-ups." This restriction was later cited by shortstop Orlando Cabrera as the reason he wanted to leave the team (he would be traded away in July 2004).
The Players' Union initially rejected continuing the San Juan arrangement for the 2004 season, but later relented. Meanwhile, MLB actively looked for a relocation site. Some of the choices included Washington, D.C.; San Juan; Monterrey, Mexico; Portland, Oregon; New Jersey; Northern Virginia; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Norfolk, Virginia. During the decision-making process, Selig added Las Vegas, Nevada, to the list of potential Expos homes.
On September 29, 2004, MLB announced that the Expos franchise would move to Washington, D.C. for 2005. Later that night, the Expos played their last game in Montreal, a 9–1 loss to the Florida Marlins before a season-high crowd of 31,395 fans. Although the team had worried about fan reaction, there were only a couple of incidents with objects thrown on the field. To commemorate their unfinished 1994 season, the Expos unfurled a banner reading "1994 Meilleure Équipe du Baseball / Best Team in Baseball." The fans gave standing ovations to team stars Tony Batista, Brad Wilkerson, and Liván Hernández, and applauded loudly up until the final out. After the game, thanks were given to the crowd by Claude Raymond in French, Jamey Carroll in English, and Hernandez in Spanish.
The end of the legal fight to keep the Expos in Montreal came on November 15, when arbitrators struck down a lawsuit by the former team owners against MLB and former majority owner Loria. The MLB franchise owners approved the move to Washington in a 28–1 vote on December 3. Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos cast the sole "nay" vote, resenting the franchise's relocation and intrusion into the Baltimore/D.C. market.
The Expos played their final game on October 3, 2004 at Shea Stadium, losing by a score of 8–1 to the New York Mets, facing the same franchise in the same venue where the Expos first started, 35 years earlier.
After the move
The Washington Nationals organization remained under the ownership of MLB until 2006, when the franchise was sold to Ted Lerner. The rights to Youppi!, the Expos mascot, were sold to the Montreal Canadiens hockey team.
As of the 2014 offseason, Endy Chavez (Seattle Mariners), Bartolo Colón (New York Mets), Bruce Chen (Kansas City Royals), Maicer Izturis (Toronto Blue Jays) and Scott Downs (Kansas City Royals) are the only remaining Expos on major league rosters. Current Nationals infielder Ian Desmond was drafted by the Expos in 2004 but didn't play his first big league game for the franchise until the 2009 season. Outfielder Roger Bernadina signed a free agent deal with the Expos in 2001 but didn't appear in a Nationals game until 2008. The Nationals released Bernadina late in 2013, leaving Desmond as the sole remaining link to the Expos franchise on the current Washington Nationals roster.
In 2012, former Expo Warren Cromartie founded the Montreal Baseball Project to "bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal." An Expo fan support group, ExposNation, attended games at Rogers Centre in Toronto during September 2012 and July 2013, to demonstrate support for baseball in Montreal.
The Toronto Blue Jays hosted two pre-season games at Olympic Stadium against the New York Mets prior to the 2014 season. Tributes to Gary Carter and to the 1994 Expos season were held during the pre-game ceremonies. The Jays returned in 2015 to play two pre-season games against the Cincinnati Reds.
On May 28, 2015, Montreal mayor Denis Coderre visited MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to discuss the possible return of the Montreal Expos. Coderre said that he would like to see Montreal host a few regular season games starting in 2016.
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- April 14, 1969 – Mack Jones hit a three-run home run and two-run triple that highlighted an 8–7 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the Expos' first home victory as a franchise at Jarry Park. Jones' blast was also the first MLB home run hit outside the United States.
- April 17, 1969 – In just the franchise's ninth game in existence, Bill Stoneman pitched a 7–0 no-hitter while striking out eight batters against the Philadelphia Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium. Johnny Briggs made the final out for the Phillies. Rusty Staub, "Le Grand Orange", was the hitting hero for the Expos, going 4-for-5 with three doubles and a homer.
- August 24, 1969 – In a 6–4 loss to the San Francisco Giants, Willie McCovey hit a 2 run HR off Bill Stoneman in the 4th inning that cleared the scoreboard in right field at Jarry Park and landed in the swimming pool outside of the stadium. Juan Marichal pitched a complete game and Bobby Bonds also homered as the Expos fell to 39–89.
- October 2, 1972 – Bill Stoneman pitched his second career no-hitter (the final score of this one was also 7–0) in the first game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets, at Jarry Park. The no-hitter was the first ever pitched outside the United States. Future broadcaster Tim McCarver was Stoneman's catcher.
- September 26, 1976 – In the final home game at Jarry Park, the Expos dropped a rain-shortened contest to the Philadelphia Phillies 2–1. Ironically, rain outs were one of the reasons the domed Olympic Stadium was an attraction for the club, although the roof would not be installed for a couple of seasons.
- April 15, 1977 – The Expos set a team attendance record for a regular season game, as 57,592 fans attended the first game at Olympic Stadium. They were defeated 7–2 by the Phillies. Greg Luzinski of the Phillies and Ellis Valentine of the Expos hit homers in the second inning, the first home runs at the Expos' new home.
- July 30, 1978 – The Expos set a team record (which was never broken) for hits in a game when they picked up 28, as they beat the Atlanta Braves by a score of 19–0. Andre Dawson, Larry Parrish and Gary Carter led the way with four hits each.
- September 17–18, 1979 – For this two game home series on a Monday & Tuesday night the Expos drew 54,609 & 56,976 fans respectively vs the Pittsburgh Pirates. This was during the NL East pennant chase. The Pirates won 2–1 & 5–3.
- May 10, 1981 – Charlie Lea pitched a no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants, defeating them 4–0 at Olympic Stadium. The last out was recorded by Andre Dawson, in center field.
- October 11, 1981 – Steve Rogers defeated Steve Carlton, of the Philadelphia Phillies, 3–0 in a pitchers' duel to win the National League Division Series. It was the only postseason series victory in Expos history. Rogers drove in two of the three Expos runs as well, singling home Larry Parrish and Chris Speier in the fifth inning. The Expos advanced to play the Los Angeles Dodgers, who defeated the Astros. Rogers had previously defeated Carlton in Game One of the series as well.
- October 19, 1981 – Blue Monday. In the decisive Game 5 of their only National League Championship Series, the Expos were defeated at home 2–1 by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tim Raines opened the bottom of the first with a double against Cy Young Award-winning rookie sensation Fernando Valenzuela and scored on an Andre Dawson double play ball. Valenzuela held the Expos scoreless the rest of the way, however, and the Dodgers tied the game at 1 in the top of the fifth with two hits, a wild pitch and an RBI ground-out off Expo starter Ray Burris. The teams remained tied until the top of the ninth, when Expo manager Jim Fanning made a risky decision to relieve Burris with Game 3 winner Steve Rogers. Struggling closer Jeff Reardon was throwing alongside Rogers in the bullpen at the time, but Fanning elected to summon his ace. Rogers retired Steve Garvey and Ron Cey in order, but outfielder Rick Monday homered to put Los Angeles ahead 2–1, crushing the Expos' hopes of advancing to the World Series. Two-out walks from Gary Carter and Larry Parrish were all the Expos could muster in the bottom of the ninth, as Bob Welch preserved the one-run Dodger victory. The Expos lost the NLCS 3 games to 2. They never returned to the postseason.
- July 13, 1982 – The All-Star Game moved across the border, when it was played at Montreal's Olympic Stadium. It was the first Midsummer Classic ever to be held outside of the United States. The National League won 4–1 before a crowd of 59,057. Steve Rogers was the winning pitcher and Dennis Eckersley took the loss. Dave Concepción was named MVP. Five players represented the Expos on the National League squad: Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Al Oliver and Rogers.
- April 13, 1984 – In his only season with the Expos, Pete Rose collected his 4,000th hit at Olympic Stadium. The hit placed him alongside Ty Cobb, the only other player with at least 4,000 hits.
- May 2, 1987 – Tim Raines powers the Expos past the New York Mets, going 4 for 5, hitting the first competitive pitch he faced in 1987 for a triple, and hitting a game-winning grand slam in the 10th inning. A free agent since November 1986, Raines had just signed with the Expos on the previous day, having missed spring training and the first month of the season as no team made a serious bid to sign him.
- August 23, 1989 – The Expos and Dodgers engaged in a 22-inning marathon, the longest game in Expos history. It eventually ended when Rick Dempsey homered for the Dodgers in the top half of the 22nd inning off Dennis Martínez, who was making a very rare relief appearance. Rex Hudler got caught while attempting to steal second base in the bottom half of the 22nd, ending the game. The game could have ended earlier when a sacrifice fly led to an Expos run, but the Dodgers appealed that the runner left the base too soon. The appeal was recognized by the third base umpire and the third out was recorded. This game also marked the first time a mascot was ejected by an umpire. Youppi!, dressed in a nightgown and nightcap on top of the Dodgers dugout roof, took a running leap, landed hard and noisily, and then sneaked into a front-row seat. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda demanded that Youppi! be run from the game. Youppi! would later return, but he stayed on the home team's dugout roof. In the end, the game took over six hours to finish and ended close to 2:00 am.
- July 26, 1991 – Mark Gardner pitched 9 innings of no-hit baseball against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. It was scoreless going into the tenth when utility man Lenny Harris singled for the Dodgers, breaking up the no-hitter.
- July 28, 1991 – In a 2–0 victory, Dennis Martínez pitched a perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The final out was recorded by Marquis Grissom in centre field, on a lazy fly ball from the bat of Chris Gwynn.
- September 8, 1991 – Dennis Martínez defeated the Cincinnati Reds 4–2 to lift the Expos to 58–77 on the season before 12,272 fans. A large section of concrete fell off the stadium after this game & before the next home stand was to begin. The balance of the home games were played on the road that year and that, combined with a poor record, and the sale of the team to new owners, contributed to some of the attendance problems leading up to the team's resurgence in 1993 & 1994.
- September 17, 1993 – One of the most exciting pennant races in team history began, as the Expos (85 wins, 62 losses) played their final series of the season against their division rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies (89 wins, 58 losses). The Expos rallied to take an 8–7 victory in front of 45,757 fans at Olympic Stadium. The clutch hitting hero was a hearing-disabled rookie named Curtis Pride, who, in his first major league at-bat, doubled home two runners and scored on the following play. After the game, Pride said he couldn't hear the ovation but could feel the vibration of the 45,757 Expos fans. Marquis Grissom won the game by doubling off of Mitch Williams, stealing third, and then scoring on a shallow sacrifice pop fly to center. The Expos would finish the season 94–68, but three games out of first place.
- June 3, 1995 – Pedro Martínez pitched nine perfect innings against the San Diego Padres before giving up a hit in the tenth to Bip Roberts, over the head of Tony Tarasco in right field. He became the second pitcher in history (the other was Harvey Haddix) to have a perfect game broken up in extra innings. However, the Expos managed to win the game, 1–0.
- May 7, 1997 – The Expos set a team record (which was never broken) for runs scored in one inning, as they scored 13 runs off Julián Tavárez, Jim Poole, and Joe Roa of the San Francisco Giants at 3Com Park. The Expos went on to defeat the Giants 19–3. The only non-pitcher on the Expos not to register a hit was Sherman Obando, who went 0-for-1. A young Vladimir Guerrero hit his first career double and was struck by a pitch for the second time in his career. A crowd of 9,958 was on hand to witness it in San Francisco.
- September 27, 1998 – Mark McGwire faced off against the Montreal Expos in the final game of the season. McGwire finished the season with 70 home runs, hitting his last five in a three-game series against Montreal. In the third inning, McGwire hit a home run off of Mike Thurman, and in the seventh inning he got number 70 off Carl Pavano.
- July 18, 1999 – David Cone, of the New York Yankees, pitched a perfect game against the Expos, winning 6–0. It was the first no-hitter thrown in regular season interleague play.
- August 6, 1999 – Tony Gwynn, of the San Diego Padres, recorded the 3000th hit of his career at Olympic Stadium.
- August 26, 2003 – The Expos rallied twice to claim a 14–10 win against the Philadelphia Phillies and put themselves within two games of the National League Wild Card playoff spot. It was the second-biggest comeback in Expos history.
- September 29, 2004 – Hours after the announcement of the impending move to Washington, D.C., the Expos played their final game in Montreal, a 9–1 loss to the Florida Marlins before 31,395 fans at Olympic Stadium.
- October 2, 2004 – The Expos earned their last win in franchise history, defeating the New York Mets 6–3. Brad Wilkerson hit the last home run in Expos history in the ninth inning, his 32nd of the year.
- October 3, 2004 – The New York Mets defeated Montreal 8–1 at Shea Stadium, in the final game of the franchise's existence as the Montreal Expos. Jamey Carroll scored the last Expos run and Endy Chávez became the final Expo batter in history when he grounded out in the top of the ninth to end the game. (Coincidentally, Shea Stadium was where the Expos had played their first-ever game, in 1969.)
The first no-hitter in Expos history was pitched by Bill Stoneman during its ninth game, on April 17, 1969, winning 7–0 against the Philadelphia Phillies and striking out eight batters. The team's second no-hitter was another 7–0 victory thrown by Stoneman in the first game of an October 2, 1972, doubleheader at Jarry Park, against the New York Mets.
The Expos' third no-hitter came from Charlie Lea on May 10, 1981, against the San Francisco Giants. The fourth and final no-hitter in the history of the Montreal franchise was a perfect game by Dennis Martínez on July 28, 1991, against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Expos broadcaster Dave Van Horne, called the final out on the telecast: "In the air...center field...El Presidente, El Perfecto!" Martinez's perfect game was the thirteenth in Major League Baseball history.
Two other no-hit games were pitched in shortened games. David Palmer won 4–0 on April 21, 1984 in 5 innings during the second game of a doubleheader vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. Pascual Pérez beat the Philadelphia Phillies 1–0 in a 5-inning game on September 24, 1988.
Baseball Hall of Famers
- 8 Gary Carter, C, 1974–84 & 1992. Gary Carter is the first member of the Baseball Hall of Fame who is depicted with an Expos cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
- 10 Andre Dawson, RF/CF, 1976–86. Dawson was the second member of the Hall of Fame with an Expos cap on his plaque when he was inducted on July 25, 2010.
- 51 Randy Johnson, P, 1988-89
- 45 Pedro Martínez, P, 1994-97
- 24 Tony Pérez, 1B, 1977–79
- 20 Frank Robinson, Manager, 2002–04. Frank Robinson was elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) in 1982. On October 4, 1974, Robinson became Major League Baseball's first African-American manager when he assumed the reins of the Cleveland Indians, and he was the first African-American to manage in both the American and National Leagues.
- Dick Williams, Manager, 1977–81
1974–84 & 1992
1969–71 & 1979
1979–90 & 2001
The Montreal Expos have retired four numbers in honour of five players, including Jackie Robinson's number 42 which was retired throughout baseball in 1997. Robinson had special ties to baseball in Montreal. He started his minor league career with the Montreal Royals in 1946. The Royals were then a AAA affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
On August 14, 1993, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his first payment to the National League for the Montreal expansion franchise, Charles Bronfman was inducted to the Expos Hall of Fame as its inaugural member. In a pre-game ceremony, a circular patch on the right field wall was unveiled, with Bronfman's name, the number 83, which he used to wear during spring training, and the words "FONDATEUR / FOUNDER".
When the franchise moved in 2004, the Washington Nationals returned the numbers retired by the Expos (except for 42) to service and assigned them to new players.
Expos in the Washington Nationals Ring of Honor
On August 10, 2010, while honouring Andre Dawson for his induction into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, the Washington Nationals formally unveiled a new "Ring of Honor" at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., to honour Hall-of-Fame players with ties to the Washington Nationals, original Washington Senators, expansion Washington Senators, Homestead Grays, or Montreal Expos. Dawson and Gary Carter were the former Expos included in the Ring of Honor on that day. The Expos logo appears next to their names in the Ring of Honor.
- Tim Wallach 1991-1992
- Active MLB non-playoff appearance streaks
- Montreal Expos all-time roster
- Expos managers and ownership
- Montreal Expos seasons
- Pearson Cup
- The Cap
- Montreal Expos Player of the Year
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- The Charlotte-Monterrey-New Jersey-Portland-Northern Virginia-Norfolk Expos
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- Las Vegas rolls the dice on Expos move
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Montreal Expos.|
- Encore Baseball Montréal (French and English) – Encore Baseball Montréal is a non-profit organization that aims to be the voice of baseball fans in order to maintain interest in baseball in the province of Quebec
- ExposNation.com - Registered Non-profit organisation seeking to promote the Montreal market as a viable baseball market, by creating awareness of a fan base in the region.
- Sports E-Cyclopedia's History of the Expos
- CBC Digital Archives – Major League Baseball Comes to Canada
- Montreal Expos / Washington Nationals Franchise Record at Baseball Reference
- La Défense de Montréal – Voros McCracken's notes on the meddling by ownership and Major League Baseball that killed the Expos in Montreal (November 9, 2001).
|National League Eastern Division Champions|
St. Louis Cardinals