It’s only fitting that the last three games in Montreal Expos’ history will be played at Shea Stadium.
With the Expos moving to Washington, D.C. next season, the franchise plays its final series in the same place it played its first one 35 years ago when it opens a three-game set against the New York Mets.
After 35 seasons in Montreal, Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that the Expos would be moved to Washington for the 2005 season, ending what has been a difficult last few years for the franchise and its players.
The team, which will play at RFK Stadium for three seasons while a new ballpark is built, will need a new nickname before its scheduled opener against Arizona on April 15.
In their last game in Montreal on Wednesday, the last-place Expos were beaten 9-1 by Florida before a season-best crowd of 31,395, about four times the season average.
“It’s a sad situation. I feel for the people in Montreal,” first baseman Brad Wilkerson said. “I’m sorry things couldn’t work out. I’ve said all along that it’s a great city. It has been a great place to play. I’ve enjoyed it, and everybody has enjoyed it. It’s an unfortunate situation.”
The Expos began play on April 8, 1969 with an 11-10 victory over the Mets at Shea Stadium. They played 641 games in their original home—Jarry Park— before moving to Olympic Stadium in 1977.
“Myself, (Jose) Vidro, T.J. Tucker, Jamey (Carroll), this is the only clubhouse we know,” Expos catcher Brian Schneider said. “It’s not like we’ve only been here for a short amount of time, it’s my fifth year here. I can go anywhere in the city and I know where I’m going. People think it’s not that hard for players, it’s hard for us, too.”
With both teams eliminated from playoff contention months ago, this series looked as though it would be a battle to avoid last place in the NL East. The Mets, however, have won five of eight to clinch fourth place, while the Expos have lost five straight and seven of eight to guarantee a fifth-place finish.
Lack of offense continues to be the biggest problem for Montreal and New York.
The Expos, outscored 24-8 during the five-game skid, are tied with the Mets for 14th in the NL with a .249 batting average.
New York, headed for its third straight losing season, is coming off back-to-back losses at Atlanta, including a 6-3 defeat Wednesday.