Dan's Dugout: Expos Legacy Continues to Grow • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Expos Legacy Continues to Grow

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Only two men wear the intertwined ME logo of the Montreal Expos in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

If current voting trends continue, that total will double.

Vladimir Guerrero is on the cusp of Hall of Fame election Credit: Keith Allison

Vladimir Guerrero is on the cusp of Hall of Fame election
Credit: Keith Allison

Both Tim Raines and Vladimir Guerrero, All-Star outfielders in different eras, are likely to garner the 75 per cent of the votes needed for enshrinement July 30.

If so, they will join Gary Carter and Andre Dawson as Expos representatives in Cooperstown.

Raines and Dawson actually played in the same outfield for Montreal, while Guerrero came along later.

Had they been around at the same time, the Expos would have had Hall of Fame outfielders manning all three positions: Raines in left, Dawson in center, and Guerrero in right.

The switch-hitting Raines surfaced in the last month of the 1979 season and stayed with Montreal until 1990, while Dawson’s Quebec tenure stretched from 1976-86. Guerrero was there from 1996-2003.

Raines, in his final year on the writers’ ballot, came ohsoclose last year but just fell short of the percentage needed for election. Guerrero is a first-timer this year and Dawson is already in.

Assuming the addition of Raines and Guerrero this year, the Hall of Fame gallery would feature nine men

Tim Raines had his number retired by the Montreal Expos.

Tim Raines had his number retired by the Montreal Expos.

who wore the Montreal uniform. In order of induction, they were Frank Robinson (1982), Tony Perez (2000), Gary Carter (2003), Dick Williams (2008), Andre Dawson (2010), Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez (both 2015) before Raines and Guerrero (2017).

Although the Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005, the team had many memorable moments during its 36-year tenure.

Created in 1969 as a National League expansion franchise, along with the San Diego Padres, the Expos never reached the World Series but came close, losing the NL Championship Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the strike-caused split season of 1981.

Bill Stoneman, later a big-league general manager, pitched a pair of no-hitters for the club and Dennis Martinez threw the 13th perfect game in major-league history. Charlie Lea also contributed a no-hitter, though Randy Johnson pitched both of his after he left.

The Expos are adding to their Cooperstown collection

The Expos are adding to their Cooperstown collection

Saddled with bad ballparks, the Expos played home games in three places: Jarry Parc, Olympic Stadium, and even San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium (host of 22 games in both 2003 and 2004 when attendance flagged in Montreal). The team lost more often than it won but missed its best chance to carve a niche in baseball history in 1994, when it had the best record in baseball when players went on strike August 12.

Home run balls disappeared into snowbanks, games were delayed by the setting sun, and owners constantly traded established stars to keep the payroll at levels they considered reasonable. For the last years of their run, the team was even owned by Major League Baseball – an untenable situation for players who knew their fates were controlled by the other 29 clubs.

Through it all, Montreal managed to make its mark.

Three numbers retired by the Expos are displayed in Nationals Park. They are 8 (Carter), 10 (Dawson and Rusty Staub), and 30 (Raines). Guerrero’s 27 is virtually certain to join them.

Montreal’s Player of the Year in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2002, he holds club records for batting (.323), home runs (234), slugging (.588), and on-base percentage plug slugging (.978). He also had single-season Expo records for batting, home runs, total bases, extra-base hits, and runs batted in.

The most notorious bad-ball hitter since Yogi Berra, Guerrero never met a pitch he didn’t like. But he made the most of his swings, never fanning 100 times in a season. His career batting average with Montreal was .323, five points better than his lifetime mark.

A nine-time All-Star, Guerrero followed the Andre Dawson’s lead in providing both power plus speed. He also duplicated Dawson’s feat of winning a league MVP award after he left Montreal.

Despite decaying knees that needed eight surgeries, Dawson delivered from the start. The NL Rookie of

Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, and Tim Raines (left to right) were Expos heroes

Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, and Tim Raines (left to right) were Expos heroes

the Year in 1977, he went to eight All-Star games and won eight Gold Gloves, primarily as a centerfielder, before finishing his career as one of eight players with 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases.

Like Guerrero, Dawson was a rangy righthanded batter who starred in Montreal before completing his career with three other clubs.

Raines led the National League in stolen bases four times and batting once while establishing a reputation as the best leadoff man not named Rickey Henderson. The compact Florida native stole more bases than any player not yet in the Hall of Fame.

That void should be filled in a couple of weeks.

Elsewhere in baseball:

The Seattle Mariners swiped a good one from Baltimore when they traded Seth Smith to the O’s for Yovani Gallardo, a great arm coming off a bad season . . .

Since the asking price for star southpaw Jose Quintana has risen through the roof in the wake of the Chris Sale and Adam Eaton deals, the Chicago White Sox are more likely to unload third baseman Todd Frazier first . . .

Rogers Hornsby had great wisdom about winter

Rogers Hornsby had great wisdom about winter

If the Atlanta Braves land Brian Dozier from Minnesota, they’ll have three 30-homer men in the middle of their lineup, along with Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp . . .

Great quote from Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby, who said when asked what he does all winter, “I look out the window and wait for spring.”

 

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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