Montreal Expos pitcher Jeff Reardon (left), first baseman Warren Cromartie, and catcher Gary Carter were part of the only team that took part in the post-season for the franchise. It was 1981 and it ended with "Blue Monday." (Andy Clark/The Canadian Press)

Distant replay: Remembering the Montreal Expos with tears and laughter

There was a ceremony at City Hall on Monday.

It was all about celebrating that moment 50 years ago when the Expos joined Major League Baseball–50 years since they began breaking our hearts in a million pieces.

Rusty Staub was beloved by Expos fans and was the team’s first great star. (Canadian Press)

In all the years they played–from the beginning of 1969 until they left for Washington in 2004–there was just one playoff appearance and it ended on a ninth-inning deciding-game homerun by a Dodger named Rick Monday in 1981, a day forever to be known as Blue Monday.

Some rationalized that at least the end came in the playoffs and not on the final weekend of the season like the previous two seasons against the Pirates and Philly.

Future Hall-of Famer Gary Carter is all smiles after scoring during a Sept. 24 1981, game against Pittsburgh. “We’d score a run or something great would happen on the field and he’d throw his fist up and say, ‘Yeah!’ He’d be snapping high fives and all that stuff,” says Carter’s former teammate Jerry White. (Ian MacAlpine/Canadian Press)

Trouble was, losing in the playoffs just meant it hurt more.

Still, absence really does appear to make hearts grow fonder.

Andre Dawson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010. (

When they left, no one appeared to even blink.

Now, a lot of people really, really want to see the Expos come back.

Dawson’s protege Tim Raines was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2017. (Bill Grimshaw/Canadian Press)

Following a baseball team is–by defination–different for everyone.

My favorite Expos team ever was the 1987 version that took the pennant race down to the final week of the season in St. Louis, only to get shut out of both ends of a crucial doubleheader that pretty much eliminated them.

Dennis Martinez at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on July 28, 1991, after pitching the 13th perfect game in major league baseball history. (Photo Credit:

That was as close as the team go for a while.

Then, a crew of exciting players–Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom, Delino DeShields–began arriving at the end of the 1980s.

Canadian Larry Walker could make into the Hall of Fame in next year’s vote. (

That led to the magical ’93 season and Curtis Pride’s stadium-rattling double, perhaps my favorite all-time Expos moment.

Then there was ’94, the year the Expos were leaving the rest of baseball miles up the track before a work stoppage cost them the season and the likely trip–finally–to the World Series.

Moises and Felipe Alou at an Expos reunion in 1994. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The following spring ownership decided they were going to break up the team rather than pay the less-than-market-value the players were prepared to accept.

We’ve had our moments since, but they mostly about terrific performances by individual players, like Vladimir Guerrero, rather than any real belief that the team was going to win anything big.

Vladimir Guerrero sits in the dugout during a game in San Diego in 1997, his first full season in the big leagues. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame last summer. (Todd Warshaw/Allsport)

By the time the end came, people had pretty much lost interest.

On this marking of 50 years, I am lucky enough to have my friend Rich Griffin as a guest.

Pedro Martinez was a marvel on the mound. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Griffin joined the Expos in 1973 and worked himself up to be director of media relations before leaving for Toronto in 1995 to join the Toronto Star to become the premier baseball reporter and writer in the country.

He is in Montreal, his hometown, as part the Blue Jays travelling circus that pitched camp last night at Olympic Stadium.

I can think of no one i would rather talk Expos with than Griffin.

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