Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- Founded: 1969 (Expansion Team)
- Stadium: Jarry Park, Montréal (capacity 28,456) 1969–1976; Stade Olympique (Olympic Stadium), Montréal (capacity 43,739 for baseball) 1977–2004
- Uniform Colors: Red, white and blue
- Logo Design: A stylized red, white and blue 'M' set on a baseball, with the baseball on a circle with MONTREAL at the top and EXPOS at the bottom.
- Mascot: Youppi
- Division Titles Won: 1981, 1994
- National League Championships: None
- World Series Championships: None
The Montréal Expos joined the National League in 1969, along with the San Diego Padres. They were named for Expo 67, a world's fair that was held in Montréal. Their home stadium was Jarry Park, in Montréal. The Expos suffered through 10 straight losing seasons under their first manager, Gene Mauch (1969-1975) and three other managers. In 1979 they posted their first winning record with a 95-65 record, under manager Dick Williams . They would post five consecutive winning seasons, including their only division championship, in the split season of 1981. They 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. Montréal was led through these years by a core group of young players, including catcher Gary Carter, outfielders Tim Raines and Andre Dawson, third baseman Larry Parrish and pitchers Steve Rogers and Bill Gullickson .
The Expos had several mediocre years in the mid 1980s under manager Buck Rodgers , but rebuilt and under manager Felipe Alou, who took the position midway through the 1992 season, finished second in the National League East in both 1992 and 1993. 1994 proved to be heart-breaking for the Expos. With a very talented group of players, including outfielders Larry Walker, Moisés Alou and Marquis Grissom and pitchers Ken Hill , John Wetteland and a young Pedro Martínez, the Expos had the best record in major league baseball, 74-40 when the strike forced the end of the season.
The Expos lost most of their star players through free agency and trades since the 1994 season and have produced poor records since except for a second place finish in 1996 and a few respectable seasons in 2002 and 2003. However, they continued their losing trend by posting a 67-95 record in 2004 after losing superstar Vladimir Guerrero to free agency during the previous offseason.
Montréal was often cited as an example of a small-market team, unable to compete with teams in bigger markets such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and therefore no longer a viable competitor. Jeffrey Loria, the last owner prior to the team's purchase by Major League Baseball, made some personnel moves, however the future of the franchise in Montréal never appeared strong. Attendance in the 2001 season was usually fewer than 10,000 people. On November 7, 2001, Commissioner Bud Selig announced that major league baseball would undergo a contraction of two teams, after a 28-2 vote by the owners. Montréal was one of the dissenting franchises.
On February 14, 2002, after a 30-0 vote, Major League Baseball formed a Delaware partnership (Expos Baseball, LP) to buy the Expos for US $120,000,000 with the intent of eliminating the franchise along with the Minnesota Twins. Following legal maneuvers that prevented the Twins from being shuttered, followed by a collective bargaining agreement between MLB and its players association which prohibited "contraction" through 2006, the team survived. Major League Baseball named Frank Robinson manager and Omar Minaya as vice-president and general manager.
In 2003, the team played 22 of its home games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, despite having the highest percentage attendance increase in 2002 to go with a second place finish in the National League East. Despite being a considerably smaller facility (it seats approximately 19,000) than Montréal's Olympic Stadium, Bithorn regularly outdrew the attendance in Montréal. 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 1998.
Led by Vladimir Guerrero, the Expos launched a spirited battle to lead the Wild Card race over the Florida Marlins. However, MLB led by Bud Selig, in what Peter Gammons called "a conflict of interest", decided that it could not afford an extra $50,000 to call-up players from its minor leagues. The budget was some $35 million dollars. All teams have this right around the end of August.
Up to this point, the fans had returned, to average up to 20,000 even on a weekday. This doomed any hopes of reviving the franchise. The Marlins eventually became the World Series' winner in 2003. Amid all of this trauma for the Montréal fans, it is sadly ironic that the team's unofficial rally song for many years was The Happy Wanderer.
The players' union initially rejected continuing the San Juan arrangement for the 2004 season, but later relented. Meanwhile, the league actively looked for a relocation site. Some of the choices included Washington D.C., San Juan, Monterrey, Mexico, Portland, Oregon, Northern Virginia, and Norfolk, Virginia. In the decision-making process, Selig added Las Vegas, Nevada to the list of potential Expos homes.
On September 29, 2004, MLB officially announced that the Expos would move to Washington D.C. in 2005. The move was approved by the owners of the other teams in a 29–1 vote on December 3 (Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos cast the sole "against" vote). In addition, on November 15, 2004, a lawsuit by the former team owners against MLB and former majority owner Jeffrey Loria was struck down by arbitrators, ending legal moves to keep the Expos in Montréal.
- On 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.
- On September 29, 2004, the Expos played their final game in Montréal, a 9-1 loss to the Florida Marlins before 31,395 fans at Olympic Stadium.
- On October 3, 2004, the New York Mets defeated Montréal 8-1 at Shea Stadium, in the final game the franchise existed as the Montréal Expos.
Players of note
Not to be forgotten
- 8 Gary Carter
- 10 Andre Dawson and Rusty "Le Grande Orange" Staub
- 30 Tim Raines
- 42 Jackie Robinson (retired throughout baseball)
Some notable broadcasters
- Dave Van Horne (1969-2000)
- Duke Snider (1973-1986)
- Tommy Hutton 1982-1986
- Don Drysdale (1970-1971)
- Gary Carter (1997-1999)
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