Ah, those Montreal Expos. Funky red, white and blue hats. Canada’s first baseball team. Les Expos.
Although they never won a National League pennant during their 36 seasons in Montreal before morphing into the Washington Nationals, the Expos produced several Hall of Fame caliber players.
Two of those players — catcher Gary Carter and newly-inducted outfielder Andre Dawson — have gone into Cooperstown as members of the Expos.
The Hawk, below right, National League Rookie of the Year in 1977, played his first 11 seasons with the Expos. He later won the 1987 NL MVP with the Cubs.
An eight-time All Star, he finished his career with 438 homers, 314 stolen bases and a .279 batting average and won eight Gold Gloves.
Carter, aka the Kid, also played his first 11 seasons with Montreal, and won a World Series with the Mets in 1986. Carter hit 324 home runs and finished with a .262 lifetime batting average.
Two other HOF candidates, Randy Johnson and Vladimir Guerrero, also began their careers in Montreal. But if the Big Unit and Vlad go to Cooperstown as expected, they will not be wearing Montreal caps.
Montreal had some other great players including Canadian-born Larry Walker, who played his first six seasons with the Expos before moving on to greater things in Colorado; Pedro Martinez who pitched four years in Montreal and was the NL Cy Young Award winner in 1997; and Andres Galararraga, who played eight years with the Expos but failed to reach the necessary five percent of votes in 2010 to stay on the HOF ballot next year.
Finally, there’s the case of Tim “Rock” Raines, who broke in with Montreal in 1979 and played his first 12 years in Montreal before being traded to the White Sox following the 1990 season.
Raines is arguably the greatest leadoff hitter in the past quarter century outside of Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. His lifetime stats compare very favorably to Lou Brock, another Hall of Famer.
The Rock should be a lock for the Hall of Fame. But strangely he hasn’t come close, garnering just over 30 percent of the vote in 2010, his third year of eligibility.