My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
• The Montreal Expos will be well represented in Cooperstown today as the National Baseball Hall of Fame inducts its class of 2015. Expos Nation, a passionate group of fans who are pushing for Major League Baseball’s return to Montreal, packed a bus that left Montreal at 6:30 a.m. this morning to travel to the festivities to pay tribute to former Expos superstar Pedro Martinez and to Randy Johnson, who pitched parts of five seasons in the Expos’ organization, before being dealt to the Seattle Mariners as part of a package for left-hander Mark Langston on May 25, 1989. In his speech, Martinez, who won the National League Cy Young Award with the Expos in 1997, will likely pay tribute to the city that he described to Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe as “the most peaceful place” he ever played.
• John Smoltz is less likely to pay tribute to Montreal in his induction speech today, but maybe he should. His performance in the city definitely helped him earn his plaque in Cooperstown. In 26 career games at Olympic Stadium, Smoltz was 10-3 with a 2.01 ERA – that’s his best ERA at any big league park. You might also remember that Smoltz was the winner of Game 5 of the 1992 World Series played at the SkyDome. In that contest, Smoltz held the Toronto Blue Jays to two runs on five hits in six innings and out-dueled Jack Morris in the Braves’ 7-2 victory.
• Craig Biggio, another of today’s inductees, should also have found memories of playing against the Expos. The Astros star had the first multi-hit game of his big league career against the Expos on July 4, 1988 at the Astrodome. In that contest, he batted eighth and went 2-for-4. He was a catcher at the time, but that didn’t stop him from legging out his first major league triple in the third inning.
• Jose Bautista belted his 224th home run as a Blue Jay in Friday night’s game in Seattle. With that round-tripper, he passed Vernon Wells to move into second place on the Blue Jays’ all-time list. Wells congratulated Bautista on Twitter on Saturday morning. “Congrats @joeybats but good luck with that next guy! Uff, he hit a lot of homers! @carlosdelgado #BlueJays.” For the record, Delgado clubbed 336 homers as a Blue Jay.
• Even talk show legend Larry King has an opinion about the Blue Jays these days. On Thursday he tweeted, “The @BlueJays are a mystery to me, I thought they’d be a lot better. I think they’re going to make a deal before next week.”
• Happy 78th birthday to Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Pete Ward. The Montreal native made his big league debut with the Baltimore Orioles on September 21, 1962 and hit a two-run single against the Minnesota Twins in his first big league at bat. Following that season, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in a blockbuster deal that brought Luis Aparicio to Baltimore. In his first season with the White Sox, he hit .295, smashed 22 home runs and was named The Sporting News American League Rookie of the Year. For an encore, he slugged 23 homers and knocked in a career-best 94 runs in 1964. Unfortunately, he suffered a neck injury in a car accident in 1965 that would hamper him for the rest of his career. He played his final season with the New York Yankees in 1970. After retiring as a player, he managed for eight seasons in the minors with the Yankees, White Sox and Pirates. He currently resides in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
• Thirty-one years ago today, Pete Rose singled twice for the Expos in their 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium. His second single in that game was the 3,052nd of his career tying him with Ty Cobb for the most all-time.
• This week’s trivia question: With his induction today, Pedro Martinez will join Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Tony Perez on a list of former Montreal Expos players that have been enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But before the Expos were established in 1969, the Montreal Royals, a very successful International League club affiliated with the Brooklyn Dodgers, operated in the city. By my count, there are at least nine former Montreal Royals players that have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Can you name four of them? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” below. The first person to provide a correct answer will win 1984 Fleer and 1984 Topps Tony Perez baseball cards.
Great stuff Kevin.
Tommy Lasorda, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and Roberto Clemente are 4 former Royals who are in the NBHOF
Nice work, Brent. You’re correct! I’ll get the cards out to you tomorrow. Thanks again.
Kevin…I was wondering..and it’s good trivia, how many Expos players married Montreal girls ? I remember Tony Perez and Mike Torrez did…but there were a few more…. paul
That would be interesting, Paul. Unfortunately, that information is not on Baseball Reference 🙂 I think Felipe Alou is married to a woman from Montreal.
So great to see all the Expos in Cooperstown today. Their franchise had some amazing players. Hopefully it’s Raines turn one day.
Thanks for the comment, Scott. Raines should already be in, but you’ve heard my rant on that 🙂
Former long-time Detroit Tigers GM Bill Lajoie is often raked over the coals for trading John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander in an August 1987 pennant drive move. Of course the Tigers beat the Jays on the last game of the season in part thanks to Doyle. Had that move not been made Smoltz would have been stuck on an aging Tiger team that went nowhere until 2006. Instead he went to Atlanta in the middle of a youth movement. They helped him develop as a starter and the rest is history. Doyle Alexander did his job for that one stretch drive. Lajoie could never have dreamt the talent that lay dormant in Smoltz while he labored in the Tigers’ minor league system. GM’s are never perfect. Lajoie built the ’80s Tigers that did win a World Championship and a pennant with exciting stars.
On this day, I as a proud Detroit Tigers fan congratulate John Smoltz (a native Michigander) who ended up with the right team that could develop and use his talents. Congratulations. The move was good for baseball.
Thanks for the comment, David. Great analysis on the Smoltz deal. I wonder if the Tigers will hold on to David Price at the deadline?
As much as I like Price as a pitcher and a Tiger I’m sure he will be traded. He could put any number of teams over the top or in serious contention. The Tigers are now in for a major rebuild that will take at least 2 years. It was a great 9 year run. They must restock the farm and a Price trade can do that.
David Price would look good in a Blue Jays uniform, but the price would be high. It would likely be Marcus Stroman or Daniel Norris plus a couple of other prospects.
I can’t see Bautista breaking Delgado’s #, that’s just too many home runs
Thanks for the comment, Devon. Yes, that does seem unlikely.
one can add don drysdale and roy campanella to the H of F list
Yes, definitely Bill. Thanks for the additions. Sparky Anderson and Dick Williams also played for the Royals.
pete rose tieing ty cobb with 3,052 hits i don’t know i believe ty cobb had over 4,100 hits, plus hall of fame from montreal dick williams player and manager, walt alston manager
Addendum to above, I meant to say dick williams later managed expos
Thanks for your comments and additions, David. About Rose tying Cobb: the note referred to singles only, not total hits. Thanks again for your support.