10: Andre Dawson/Rusty Staub
30: Tim Raines
42: Jackie Robinson* (huh?)
* - Hall
of Famer Note: The Washington
decided to disrespect their own
by refusing to
honor the numbers retired
while the team was in Montreal.
The Expos debuted in the Major Leagues in 1969, two years after Expo 67
- the world's fair. This marked the first time in its long history that
MLB expanded outside the United
Social Impact of the Expos
Quebec was a deeply Catholic,
society. In the 1960s,
socio-economic changes under the Quiet
Revolution saw massive social upheavals and improvement of the status
Canadians. The arrival of Expo 67, the new Metro
subway and the Expos allowed Montreal and Quebec to see itself as
international and "major league." This search for a
"Quebecois" movement later came into fruition as the separatist
The Montreal Expos franchise joined the National
League in 1969, along with the San
Diego Padres. Their home stadium was Jarry
Park. The Expos suffered through 10 straight losing seasons under
their first manager, Gene
and three other managers (including a 52–110 debut season in 1969, tying
the Padres for the majors' worst record that year). In 1979
they posted their first winning record with a 95–65 record, under
Williams. They would post five consecutive winning seasons, and reach
their only post season in 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. Montreal 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. In spite of the team's talent and promise during the early
Expos frequently did not perform up to expectations, and stalwarts such as
Carter and Dawson would depart by the middle of the decade.
The strike hurt the team's campaigns for a new stadium, and a local
conglomerate failed to invest the necessary funds making it impossible for
ownership (such as Jean
Coutu and Stephen
Bronfman) to retain the talented players on the team. Coutu and
Bronfman had the resources to buy the team outright and also build new a
"retro" stadium downtown. (Mitch Melnick, CKGM Team 990 and Pat
Hickey, Montreal Gazette). This conglomerate unsuccessfully
launched a lawsuit against Major League Baseball years later.
led by Claude
Brochu and Jacques
Ménard, general manager at the time Kevin Malone was ordered to
release its major stars. Many of the leading players said in retrospect
that they were willing to take pay-cuts in order to return in 1995 and
compete once again for the World
Series. On ESPN,
Walker, asked rhetorically, "I was willing to take a cut to keep
the team together, but I was never offered a contract. Where did the money
go? We may never know." This major overhaul proved to be damaging to
the franchise and its temperamental fan base.
The Final Decade
After 1994, the Expos lost most of their star players through free
agency and trades, and produced poor records nearly every season,
except for a second place finish in 1996
and a few respectable seasons in 2002
the Expos were 67–95 after losing superstar Vladimir
Guerrero to free agency during the previous off-season.
Montreal is often cited as an example of a small-market team, unable to
compete with teams in bigger markets such as New
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 Montreal never appeared strong. Attendance in the 2001
season was usually fewer than 10,000 people. On November
Selig announced that major league baseball would undergo a contraction
of two teams, after a 28–2 vote by the owners. Montreal was one of the
1980 Montreal Expos
program featuring Warren Cromartie.
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. When legal maneuvers prevented the Twins from being shuttered,
bargaining agreement followed between MLB and its players association
which prohibited "contraction" through 2006,
so the Expos 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
Rico, despite having the highest percentage attendance increase in
2002 (from 7,935 per game to 10,025) and placing second in the National
League East. Despite being a considerably smaller facility (it seats
approximately 19,000) than Montréal's Olympic
Stadium, San Juan's Hiram
Bithorn Stadium 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 2003 Expos were part of a spirited seven-team Wild Card
hunt as late as August
28. However, MLB led by Bud
Selig, in what ESPN's 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. This doomed any hopes of reviving the
franchise. Omar Minaya, the General Manager later said, "Baseball
handed down a decree.” They would not be allowed to call up players from
the minors on Sept. 1 like every other team in the game, as it was deemed
too expensive. They would have to make do with what they had. The heart
went out of the Expos that day. "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."
Orlando Cabrera, who had been the Expos' shortstop, cited that
development as a reason he didn't want to remain with the team.
Fan attendance dropped off, and the Expos went 12–15, finishing eight
games out of the Wild Card.
29, 2004, MLB officially announced that the Expos franchise would move
to Washington, D.C. in 2005.
Later that night, the Expos played what would be their last game in
Montréal, a loss to the Florida Marlins before more than 31,000 fans. The
move was approved by the owners of the other teams in a 29–1 vote on December
Orioles owner Peter
Angelos cast the sole nay vote). 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.
The team's relocation was the first in Major League Baseball since 1972,
when the Washington
Senators moved to Texas,
becoming the Texas
Rangers. The franchise has been owned by Major League Baseball since 2002,
although a new owner is expected to be selected by the end of 2005.
The move was announced despite opposition from Baltimore Orioles owner Peter
Angelos. From 1972 to 2004, the Orioles were the sole MLB franchise in
the Baltimore-Washington metropolis. Obtaining the Orioles' cooperation
was essential: the Baltimore and Washington regions had always been
considered part of the same market, one which the Orioles' had had
exclusive control over since 1972 (the original Washington Senators had
waived their exclusivity rights to the region to allow the Orioles, then
the St. Louis Browns, to move to Baltimore in 1953).
a deal was struck between Peter Angelos and Major League Baseball in order
to protect the Orioles against any financial harm the Nationals might
present to the Orioles' market (Washington is approximately 35 miles
south of Oriole
Park at Camden Yards, where the Orioles have played their home games
Under the terms of the deal, television and radio broadcast rights to
Nationals games are handled by the Orioles franchise, who formed a new
Sports Network) to produce and distribute the games for both
franchises on both local affiliates and cable/satellite systems.
The Ballpark Controversy
The team's relocation to Washington was contingent on a financing plan
for the Nationals'
stadium — a plan that was the subject of much debate on the D.C.
The ballpark proposal is controversial; many city residents oppose
government subsidies for a multi-billion-dollar private business and would
prefer the land and money to focus on schools rather than a ballpark.
Three Council members who supported Mayor Anthony
Williams's plan were ousted in September's Democratic
party primary. An opinion poll conducted by the Washington
Post found that approximately two thirds of District residents
oppose the mayor's stadium plan.
Some controversy arises over the fact that the city is helping finance
a $581 million dollar stadium without state or county support, despite the
fact that a large portion of the team's fan base is drawn from the
surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
2004, the move to Washington itself was called into question when the D.C.
City Council sought to change details of the stadium's financing. When the
council voted on December
14 to require 50 percent private financing for any new stadium, MLB
ceased promotional activities for the Nationals and announced that they
would consider looking for a new market.
Eventually, the council passed an amended plan on December
that proved slightly more financially favorable to the city, while
remaining acceptable to MLB. Mayor Williams signed the stadium financing
package on December
Viability of Washington Baseball Market
Due to the history of Washington franchises (See Washington
Senators), there are doubts about whether Washington will actually be
a better market for a pro baseball team than Montréal long term. Major
League Baseball does not express such doubts, and proponents of the
move argue that the failure of previous franchises has more to do with
poor business decisions and financial management on the part of their
owners than with any lack of popular support in the region itself.
Some analysts 
have pointed out that Washington may be less suited than some other cities
to support baseball because it is primarily an African-American city
(59%), and that African-Americans generally support baseball less than
whites. Past Washington Senators teams have blamed poor attendance
partially on lack of attendance by African-Americans. Washington has
larger and whiter suburbs than it did in the 60s, so some analysts believe
this will be a less important factor than in the past. Still, both
versions of the Senators only finished in the first half of the American
League in attendance in 9 out of 71 seasons; the worst percentage of any
team in Major League Baseball history that played for more than two
seasons, including the Expos. The only season the Senators finished with
more than one million in attendance was 1946, when baseball attendance was
radically up nationwide due to the return of servicemen from World War II.
Though partially a product of the team's surprising 2005
first half showing, the Nationals' midseason attendance totals exceeded
the Expos' 2004
total attendance. The final attendance for the 2005 season was 2,731,993;
the 2005 total in Washington, DC exceeded the previous three seasons in
Montréal combined (2002-2004) and was 11th in MLB.
On April 6, 2005,
the Washington Nationals won their first-ever regular season game by
beating the Phillies, 7-3. The win came in their second game of the
season and was highlighted by Wilkerson's hit
for the cycle.
Uniform Colors: Red, white and blue with gold trim. Red hats
and T-shirts are worn for home games, while blue hats and T-shirts are
worn for road games.
Logo Design: A shield featuring "Washington" in a
ribbon device over "Nationals" in a hard-block font, both
superimposed over a baseball flanked by 9 stars, representing the 9
defensive players of a baseball team. The scripted "W" on
the Nationals' hats is similar to that of the former Washington
Senators (1961 expansion, now the Texas
Mascot: A six-foot, two-inch (1.88 meters) tall eagle chick
wearing a Washington Nationals cap and matching jersey. (Mascot in
Montreal was named Youppi.
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. The no-hitter was the first ever pitched outside the
the All-Star Game moved across the border and was played in
Montréal'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 Concepcion was named MVP. Five
players represented the Expos on the National League squad: Gary
Raines and Al
29, 2004, hours after the announcement of the impending move to
Washington, the Expos played their final game in Montréal, a 9–1
loss to the Florida
Marlins before 31,395 fans at Olympic Stadium.
2, 2004, the Expos win their last game in franchise history,
defeating the New York Mets 6–3. Brad
Wilkerson hit the last home run in Expos history in the 9th
inning, his 32nd of the year.
3, 2004, the New York Mets defeated Montreal 8–1 at Shea
Stadium, in the final game the franchise existed as the Montreal
Carroll scored the last Expos run and Endy Chavez became the final
Expo batter in history when he singled out in the top of the ninth to
end the game. Ironically, it was at Shea Stadium where the Expos
played their first ever game in 1969.
Retired Number Controversy
The Washington Nationals did not retain the retired numbers after the
team moved in 2004, which was a terrible display of disrespect for the
history of the franchise. The Nationals do not list these numbers as still
being retired, and no player wore either Numbers 8 or 10 during the 2005
season. Reliever Mike
Stanton did wear the number 30 during his brief stint in Washington,
indicating that all numbers formerly retired by the Expos are now
available for the Nationals (despite the official site of the Nats listing
the Raines #30 as retired along with the others). RFK Stadium has a
Washington Wall of Stars above its right-field fence, and several Washington
Senators figures are honored, but, as yet, no Nationals figures. On
October 18, 2005, the Montreal
Canadiens honored the departed team by raising an Expos commemorative
banner, which lists the retired numbers, to the rafters of the Bell
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