The List: The Expos' Fading Legacy
When former Washington Nationals fan favorite Brad Wilkerson retired last week, it removed one more link from the chain that connects the Nationals to their Montreal past.
Wilkerson's retirement (and the continued holdout of free agent Pedro Martinez) leaves only 31 active big leaguers who appeared in a game in an Expos uniform, according to Stats LLC. (Most surprising: Ted Lilly. Who knew that he made nine appearances, including three starts, for the Expos in 1999?) As for Washington, since the release of Shawn Hill during spring training there is only one player remaining on the Nationals' roster who also played for the franchise in Montreal: first baseman Nick Johnson.
But there are still some ways in which the Expos live on. Here are the top five. If you think of others, feel free to add them in the comments section:
5. Jeffrey Loria. In Montreal, the former owner is regarded as a scoundrel who ran the Expos into the ground and barely mustered a fight against the threat of contraction. But in a 2001 deal brokered by Major League Baseball, Loria sold the Expos to the league and bought the Florida Marlins, which -- with the help of a front office and staff made up largely of former Expos personnel -- he helped turn into a perennial overachiever that won the World Series in 2003.
4. The Record Book. The Expos' historical records live on as part of the Nationals' official franchise history -- much to the chagrin of many Nationals fans, who view the old Senators as the true ancestors of the Washington franchise and who have lobbied to have those records installed as the Nationals' official ones.
3. Gary Carter. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003, "The Kid" remains the only player whose official Cooperstown plaque sports an Expos cap -- although that could change if either Andre Dawson or Tim Raines get in.
2. Omar Minaya. Talk about a legacy. Nationals fans curse Minaya's name every time Jason Bay bashes another homer, Cliff Lee wins another game or Grady Sizemore has another 3-for-5 game. All were former Expos farmhands traded during Minaya's tenure as GM, back when the franchise was facing the specter of contraction. Now the GM of the Mets, he undoubtedly is thankful those players no longer reside in his own division.
1. Youppi. The Expos' beloved former mascot, he was banished to mascot purgatory when the Nationals regrettably decided to go in another direction -- with the abomination known as Screech. Thankfully, the Montreal Canadiens stepped in and purchased the rights to Youppi, who lives on as the mascot of the venerable NHL franchise.
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