Vintage Baseball Teams: Montreal Expos
On April 14, 1969, Canada received a taste of professional baseball with the country’s first MLB game on native soil! The inaugural game was played between the league’s latest franchise, the Montreal Expos, and the prior year’s National League champions, the St. Louis Cardinals. In the first game played outside the United States, the Expos scored an early victory for Canada, beating the Cardinals 8-7.
Where is Quebec’s major league team now? They rebranded themselves as the Washington Nationals in 2004. How did this happen? Who suited up for the Expos? We looked at the history of this vintage baseball team Montreal still misses dearly.
Where Did They Come From? Where Did They Go?
Montreal worked hard in the late 1960s to establish themselves as a cosmopolitan city. The city put on a successful World’s Fair, known as Expo 67, and were awarded one of four expansion franchises by the MLB in 1969. Before the first pitch was thrown by a player sporting a Montreal uniform, financial woes entered the equation. Some of the investors pulled out at the last minute, and the club may not have had an opening day if not for one of the sons of the Seagram empire (famous for its beverage production), Charles Bronfman.
Financial instability led to the team’s demise, as ownership of the team changed hands several times, and the funds to reinvigorate the side were never available. On September 29, 2004, they played their last game in Montreal versus the Florida Marlins, losing 9-1, in front of over 30,000 fans.
Their logo is a symbolic combination of the words, “Montreal Expos Baseball,” with an e, m, and b in three different colors.
Who Were Their Stars?
Third baseman Tim Wallach played over 1,700 games as a member of the Montreal Expos after being drafted in the first round in 1979. He earned numerous accolades during this time, including three Golden Gloves, all while making five All-Star appearances. Wallach also came in fourth place in MVP voting in 1987 to the Cubs’ Andre Dawson and the Cardinals’ Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark.
Right Fielder Vladimir Guerrero was never able to win an MVP as a member of the Montreal Expos – he finished in the top 25 of total votes 6 out of 8 seasons – despite his impressive contributions for the team. He also went two years, 1999 and 2000, where he sent over 40 balls out of the park. He would eventually be recognized as the league MVP as an Anaheim Angel in 2004, Guerrero’s first year away from the Expos.
There’s no MLB team in Montreal anymore, and while the citizens in D.C. enjoy the Washington Nationals, there’s a city north of the border that is missing their beloved Expos. Who knows when a team may return to the city? Until then, fans can outfit themselves with classic attire through the best place to buy officially licensed merchandise and apparel, Fanatics.