The Montreal Expos were an important part of Major League Baseball’s history. As the first Canadian franchise and first team in a French-speaking area, it brought in new fans. All-time greats like Randy Johnson, Vladimir Guerrero, Pete Rose, and Andre Dawson played for them. Even players such as Russell Martin and Eric Gagne may not have played in the Majors had there not been a team in Montreal. When they moved to Washington DC following the 2004 season, it displaced fans of the Quebec ball club. Now with the last active player drafted by the Montreal Expos retiring (Tom Brady), it’s possible 2023 could be the last season a current player has played against Montreal. Especially now that notable players like Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina have retired. Only two active players can lay claim as the last remaining Expos opponents, and here are their stories.
The Last Remaining Expos Opponents
Before he became a six-time All-Star, six-time Gold Glover, two-time ERA champ, 200 game-winner, and a Cy Young award winner, Zack Greinke was a rookie for the Kansas City Royals. After being called up on May 22nd, 2004, Greinke was winless after his first three starts. On June 8, 2004, the twenty-year-old right-hander got a chance to face the Montreal Expos during their last time at Kauffman stadium. His only start against Montreal.
At the time both teams were at the bottom of their respective divisions. The Montreal Expos were 18-37 and last in the National League East. While the Royals were 20-34, last in the American League Central. On this Tuesday evening game, Greinke would go against Tony Armas. In that game, Zack Greinke went seven innings allowing no earned runs, no walks, and five strikeouts. The game ended 4-2 and gave Greinke his first career win. Currently, he is at 223 career wins and counting.
Notable players in that game include Carlos Beltran, Matt Stairs, and Juan Rivera. In addition, the Royals’ catcher that night was Benny Santiago, a highly decorated player in his own right. Santiago made his Major League debut in 1986, meaning this battery of players has been a part of baseball for 38 consecutive seasons.
Before becoming a 12-time All-Star, two-time MVP, and a Triple Crown winner, Cabrera regularly played games against the Montreal Expos. His first game against Montreal came on July 11th, 2003, his nineteenth career game with the Florida Marlins. Cabrera would get his first hit against Montreal on July 13 in an 11-4 win. In the 2003 season against Montreal, Cabrera hit .158/.250/.290 with 0 home runs and 6 RBI.
However, in 2004 against Montreal his luck had turned. In 19 games against the Expos, Cabrera hit .343/.407/.658 with 7 home runs and 13 RBI. He hit his first home run off Montreal on April 7th, 2004, in the bottom of the 8th against Chad Codero. By the end of April 2004, Cabrera would have four home runs off the Expos alone. He would finish the 2004 season with seven multi-hit games against Montreal.
With the retirement of Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, Miguel Cabrera will be the last active player to have played a regular season game at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. In nine games at “the Big O,” he was .233/.368/.467 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI. He even got his fourth career stolen base in Montreal on July 23rd, 2004, his first of three career stolen bases in Canada.
Miguel Cabrera is retiring after the 2023 MLB season, but he is not fully stepping away from the sport he loves ❤️ pic.twitter.com/FmcWg9jIrk
— ESPN (@espn) November 28, 2022
Final Thoughts On The Last Remaining Expos Opponents
The city of Montreal has been rich in baseball history. After a long run as a Triple-A city, the Major Leagues awarded them a National League team that brought in a whole new group of fans. Despite one playoff appearance in thirty-six seasons, the Expos were beloved by their city, province, country, and French-speaking fans everywhere. When the Montreal Expos headed south 19 years ago, the memories of this era begin to fade.
With Miguel Cabrera intending to retire following the 2023 season, this will be the last year an active player will have played in Montreal against the Expos. As the largest market in North America without a Major League franchise, fans patiently wait for a team to return. With the future of expansion uncertain, Montreal fans can enjoy the fact that the last active player on their home soil will be a Hall of Famer.
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