On This Date...in 1994: Montreal Expos Leap into First Place

Baseball Jun 24, 2020

On this date 26 years ago, the former Montreal Expos moved into first place in the National League East, beating the Florida Marlins 7-3 at Olympic Stadium.

The 1994 Major League Baseball season was both memorable and tragic for the Expos, who began play in 1969 and enjoyed only one post-season appearance in their history.  The Expos were stocked with talent that year and posted a stellar 74-40 W-L record, which was the best in the majors.  Their .649 winning percentage was tops in their 35-year history.

That season, Manager Felipe Alou had the Expos primed for a certain playoff appearance and a possible World Series chase.  However, in late August the Major League Baseball Players Association voted to go on a long strike that wiped out the Expos; chances of competing in the playoffs and possibly bringing a pennant to Quebec.

The strike ended the season, and also was a death knell for the Expos and their fans.  The franchise never recovered from the strike, not on the field nor at the box office.  Montreal slowly bled away free agent talent, the team became one of the worst in baseball, and attendance shrunk to less than 10,000 per game.

In 2001, Commissioner Bud Selig announced a controversial decision to contract from 30 to 28 teams. Montreal was one of the teams targeted.  The Expos were bought and operated by Major League Baseball and in its final years was severely hamstrung by fiscal restrictions placed upon it to the point where the team could not afford to pay salaries, even for players called up from the minor leagues.

The unlucky red, white, and blue team colors would eventually settle down in their new home, Washington, D.C. which became the team's final transfer point.  The Expos played their last game in Montreal before 31,000 fans, losing to Florida on September 29, 2004.

Fifteen years later, the Washington Nationals, a.k.a. the former Montreal Expos would win their first World Series.

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