In 1969, the Montreal Expos became the first Major League Baseball team ever to be based outside the United States.
As one of four expansion teams that summer — the San Diego Padres, Seattle Pilots, and Kansas City Royals were the others — the Expos gave fans everywhere a front-row seat for what it took to build a championship team.
Uh … er … well …
That is, they gave fans a look at what it was like to claw your way above .500 and then watch as two player strikes in 14 years wipe out your best seasons …
… and then lose momentum and eventually move out of town.
But during the 35 years that the Expos graced Montreal and MLB, they built a lifetime of memories for fans north of the border and imparted an undeniable flair that was distinctly Exposian.
Will the Montreal Expos ever return to the MLB scene?
For sure, there are plenty of folks who would like to see that happen.
But until then, here are 35 facts to warm your Expos cockles, especially if you’re a baseball card collector.
Montreal Expos Cardboard Exposé
- On October 14, 1968, the Expos made outfielder Manny Mota (Pittsburgh Pirates) their first selection in the expansion draft.
- The first major-issue Expos baseball card was the 1969 Topps Jesus Alou (#22).
- The first Topps card to show the Expos logo was the 1969 Ty Cline pasteboard (#442).
- The first multi-player rookie card to show Expos players was the 1969 Topps Expos Rookie Stars card (#284) featuring Jerry Robertson and Mike Wegener.
- From 1969 through 1976, the Expos played home games at Jarry Park Stadium, seen to good effect in the background of the 1969 Fud’s Photography Expos postcard set.
- The first Expos team card was in the 1970 Topps set (#509).
- Carl Morton went 18-11 with a 3.60 ERA to win the 1970 National League Rookie of the Year award. The only other Expo ever named ROY was Andre Dawson in 1977.
- Pitcher Steve Rogers spent his entire 13-year career with the Expos, from 1973 through 1985. During that time, he made five All-Star teams and finished in the top 10 of the NL Cy Young vote three times.
- Though he ended his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, third baseman Tim Wallach matched Rogers for the longest Expos tenure, playing in Montreal from 1980 through 1992. During that span, he made five All-Star teams, won three gold gloves, and nabbed two top-10 MVP finishes.
- The first Hall of Fame player pictured on a baseball card as a member of the Montreal Expos was Gary Carter on his 1975 Topps rookie card (#620).
- Dick Williams was the only Expos skipper inducted into the Hall of Fame as a manager. He guided Montreal for five years (1977-81), including their first winning campaign in 1979. William’s 1978 Topps card shows him in his red, white, and blue Expos togs.
- Ross Grimsley went 20-11 for the Expos in 1978 to become the only 20-game winner in team history (pre-Nationals).
- In both 1979 and 1980, the Expos entered the final weekend of the season with a chance to win the NL East crown but came up just short each time. Both division winners — Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies — would go on to win the World Series.
- The earliest baseball card of any member of the Montreal Expos is the 1951 Bowman Gene Mauch (#312).
- The earliest baseball card of Montreal Expos player is the 1953 Topps (#246) Roy Face rookie card when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
- On April 13, 1984, Pete Rose collected career hit number 4000 while playing for the Expos against his former team, the Philadelphia Phillies, in Olympic Stadium. Rose would appear as an Expo on several baseball cards that fall and in 1985 despite being traded to the Cincinnati Reds in August of ’84.
- The Expos landed two entries in the first run of Rated Rookies in 1984. Mike Stenhouse was #29 and Angel Salazar was #33.
- Gary Carter was the first Expo to be named the MVP of the All-Star Game, in 1981. He also won the award in 1984, and Tim Raines copped the honor in 1987.
- Although Tim Raines has key rookie cards in the 1981 Topps base and Traded sets and the debut Donruss set from the same year, Fleer did not issue a card of the Expos great until 1982.
- The first “leaders” card to feature a member of the Expos was 1972 Topps card #95, which showed Bill Stoneman after he finished third in the National League with 251 strikeouts in 1971.
- The first Fleer Expo card was the 1981 Gary Carter issue (#142).
- Larry Parrish (#89) appeared on the first Expos card in the 1981 Donruss set.
- Thanks to the 1981 baseball strike, the Expos played in one of the first-ever National League Division Series. They dropped the Philadelphia Phillies in five games before losing the NLCS to the Los Angeles Dodgers thanks to a series-winning home run by Rick Monday in the top of the 9th inning of Game 5.
- The first Topps All-Star card to feature a member of the Montreal Expos was the 1982 Andre Dawson AS, #341. Gary Carter appeared on card #344.
- Coincidentally, the 1982 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was held at Olympic Stadium, the only time Montreal hosted the mid-summer classic.
- In 1982, Canadian discount store Zellers issued a set of 20 three-card panels using 12 different Expos players to illustrate “Pro Tips” on various aspects of playing baseball.
- Jeff Reardon won the 1985 Rolaids Fireman Award as (presumably) the NL’s best relief pitcher. He was the only Expos hurler ever so honored.
- Olympic Stadium was featured on the back of the 1988 Fleer Montreal Expos sticker inserted into wax packs.
- On May 22, 1992, the Expos hired Felipe Alou as their new manager, making him the first Dominican-born skipper in MLB history. Alou’s first manager card can be found in the 1992 Topps Traded set (#3T).
- Alou won the NL Manager of the Year Award in 1994, joining Buck Rodgers (1987) as the only Expos field bosses to garner that honor.
- Pedro Martinez won the 1997 National League Cy Young Award while pitching for Montreal. It was the only MVP or Cy Young ever won by an Expos player.
- The Expos retired three uniform numbers — Gary Carter (8), Andre Dawson (10) & Rusty Staub (10), Tim Raines (30)
- The last Montreal Expos player to appear on a regular-issue Topps card was Tony Batista (#201) in 2005.
- Manager Frank Robinson was the last uniformed member of the Montreal Expos to appear on a regular-issue Topps card — #284 in the 2005 set.
- Card #655 in the 2005 Topps set is the last Montreal Expos team card.
And a couple of bonus morsels because the Expos always strove for more …
- Washington was bound and determined to grab one of the 1969 expansion teams as their own once the Senators left town. In 1974, the San Diego Padres almost made the move, as evidenced by Topps’ infamous “Washington Nat’l Lea.” cards. The Expos, of course, actually became the Washington Nationals after the 2004 season.
- Joel Youngblood appeared on one of those cool multi-player Fleer Superstar Specials in 1983 — and he was both players! The card commemorated Youngblood’s feat of playing for both the New York Mets and the Expos on August 4, 1982.
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