Among the 16 position players on the roster, four were Black and four were Latino. Starters Marquis Grissom (CF) and Cliff Floyd (1B) were two of five Montreal starters to hit .280 or better.
Lenny Webster and Rondell White were solid reserve options for manager Felipe Alou.
Strike Three, MLB Out
On August 12, 1994, Major League players went on strike. The strike eventually led to the cancellation of nearly 1000 games, including the playoffs and World Series.
Prior to the shutdown of the season, it seemed that two teams were on a collision course to meet in the Fall Classic, the New York Yankees and the Montreal Expos. While the Yankees were rising from a nearly two-decade funk, the Expos had quietly put together one of the most exciting young cores in baseball.
By 1994, Montreal had strung together consecutive winning seasons; winning 87 games in 1992 and 94 in 1993.
The 94 wins were the second-most in franchise history but still weren’t enough to reach the postseason.
The Expos had generally been good, but never great over the first 24 years of the franchise’s history. Between 1979 and 1993, Montreal had finished .500 or better 12 times.
Then came 1994.
Montreal was stacked. The pitching staff led the NL in wins (74), winning percentage (.649), ERA (3.56), saves (46), and only allowed three more runs than the Atlanta Braves, who were in the middle of the Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz era.
On offense, they scored more than five runs per game with a well-rounded offensive attack.
The Expos’ .278 batting average made up for the fact that they finished ninth in the league in home runs with just 108.
Montreal tore up the basepaths with 137 steals and punished the gaps, racking up 246 doubles and 30 triples.
Then there was the defense.
The Expos were second only to the San Francisco Giants in defensive efficiency and finished second to the Braves in runs allowed per game at just under four. In other words, they had no holes. They could beat any team in any way you could think of.
Five Expos made the All-Star team, including pitcher Ken Hill, who led the National League with 16 wins.
Hill was the ace of a staff that included a young Pedro Martinez, who had been traded to Montreal for Delino DeShields, Jeff Fassero, and John Wetteland. Ironically, Wetteland would join the Yankees the next season and win a World Series with them in 1996.
As the negotiations began to break down between the Players’ Union and the owners, Montreal kept playing like a team on a mission, winning 20 of their final 23 games before the strike. The Expos were on pace for 106 wins, which would have tied for the seventh-highest total in baseball history at the time, and the most ever in a 162-game season.
Then, just over a month later, any dreams the Expos had of claiming their first championship were gone when Bud Selig announced that the remainder of the season would not be played.
The expos got shafted in 1994. That team was great. Larry Walker, Pedro Martinez, Moises Alou, John Wettland, Marquis Grissom..sad.
What should have been the beginning of a potential dynasty, with Montreal only having two players on the roster over 30, was really just the beginning of the end for the Expos.
Walker, Grissom, Hill, and Wetteland were all gone by the start of the next season. Floyd got hurt, and the team finished 66-78 in 1995.
The Expos had only three winning seasons in their final decade in Montreal, as crowds began to get smaller and their home field, Olympic Stadium began to fall apart.
In 2005, they made the move to Washington, D.C., and rebranded as the Nationals.
In 16 seasons, the Nats have made five trips to the postseason, including a World Series championship in 2019, but none of those teams were as talented or as dominant as the ‘94 Expos.
It was disappointing that the Nationals didn’t include some of those Montreal greats, including the players who helped build the franchise up from its expansion roots, like Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, and Warren Cromartie.
Many of the top players from that 1994 team did go on to find their own success elsewhere. Grissom won his championship with the Braves in 1995.
Floyd and Alou collected their own with the Marlins in ‘97. The Marlins also had a Black catcher named Charles Johnson who is the last #MLBbro backstops of note in MLB history.
Martinez became the ace of the Red Sox in 2004 when they broke the Curse of the Bambino.
The 1994 Montreal Expos were one of the greatest teams ever, and no one remembers them.
There are few moments in sports more exciting than a walk-off homer in baseball.
At one moment, the outcome of the contest is hanging in the balance. A moment later, it’s over.
In baseball history, few players have participated in a walk-off home run more dramatic than Joe Carter’s in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series.
The Toronto Blue Jays were up 3 games to 2 in the World Series over the Philadelphia Phillies but trailing in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 6.
With runners on 1st and 2nd, Phillies reliever Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams threw a 2-2 fastball to Carter who deposited it over the left field wall for a 3-run home run.
One that walked it off for victory and delivered the city of Toronto it’s second straight World Series Championship.
The call is one for the ages.
Five years after Carter won the World Series, he played his last game, finishing his 16-year MLB career with 396 home runs and 1,445 RBI.
In 2004 he was eligible for the Hall of Fame on the baseball writer’s ballot but received just 19 votes, a 3.8% share that was just shy of the 5% minimum required to remain on future ballots.
Joseph Chris Carter player college ball at Wichita State, and was an RBI man long before he entered the majors, driving in a then NCAA record 120 runs in 1981.
Carter was selected by the Cubs second overall in the 1981 MLB Draft. He was considered a five-tool player, with power, speed and strong-arm (he was a quarterback in high school).
He hit 22 home runs, while stealing 40 bases at AAA Iowa. In 1984, the Cubs were considered contenders and dealt Carter to the Indians in a trade that brought eventual Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe to Chicago.
This would be the first of three times that Carter would be involved in mega-trades involving players of significance.
With stops in Chicago, Cleveland, San Diego, Toronto, Baltimore and San Francisco.
From 1984-1998 no player in MLB had more RBI than Carter’s (1444), with Cal Ripken a distant second (1319), followed by Eddie Murray (1220), Barry Bonds (1216) and Jose Canseco (1214).
So, Carter is ahead by a considerable amount. Carter was also 4th in home runs (behind 3 players linked to steroids), and 5th in doubles over those 15 years.
Durability played a huge role as Carter was definitely available on game day. He played in all but 65 games from ‘85 to ‘97.
If Carter were to ever get that call to the Hall, he’d join Bill Mazeroski, as the only two players to end the Fall Classic on a homer and be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Point blank Joseph Chris Carter was an “RBI Man.”
When it came to driving men in, he didn’t play cute. He simply got the job done as well as any run producer of his generation.
Hall of Fame? Maybe. There’s definitely players in Cooperstown that can’t hold his jock strap as a run producer. There are a few clearly better.
But less than a handful of them can claim to be as clutch as “Touch Em All Joe.”
Tony Gwynn was a two-sport athlete growing up in California. The young talent mastered the crafts of baseball and basketball. The teenager that would one day go on to rewrite the book on modern era hitting, attended Long Beach Polytechnic, which was a high-profile and very competitive school for sports.
Gwynn starred on both the basketball and baseball teams.
His individual success couldn’t hide the fact that the baseball and basketball teams were moving in opposite directions during his final two years of high school.
The basketball team went 53-8, while the baseball team went 3-25-2 during his junior and senior years.
Gwynn considered quitting baseball and focusing solely on basketball, but his mom talked him out of it. It turned out to be a life-saver for Gwynn and the storied history of Major League Baseball.
A gaping chapter would be missing in Baseball’s Bible if Gwynn decided to drop the diamond and hit the hardwood full time.
Coming out of high school, Gwynn received multiple basketball scholarship offers, but none for baseball. He eventually signed with the San Diego State Aztecs with the opportunity to play both baseball and basketball.
In college he played four years of basketball and three years of baseball.
Although he was a two-time All-American in baseball, believe it or not, he was even better on the court. He set multiple school records for assists playing the point guard position. He was named All-WAC Second Team twice as a member of the basketball team.
Ultimately Gwynn made the right decision to focus solely on baseball after his four-year hoops commitment to the Aztec program was completed.
He may have had an NBA career if he put the same focus and diligence into hoops as he did into constructing his rise to baseball immortality.
In the end, both sports contributed to his Hall of Fame destination. Playing basketball helped Gwynn’s baseball skills out a lot as far as his agility and developing quick hands.
Gwynn spent 20 seasons in the majors playing for the Padres, he was selected by San Diego in the 1981 MLB Draft. He only spent one season in the minor leagues and made his debut during the 1982 season. He appeared in 54 games and finished with a .289 batting average. It was a solid rookie season with numbers that paled in comparison to the prolific hit totals Gwynn would amass in the future.
By 1984, Gwynn had San Diego in the World Series.
In his third season, Gwynn broke out and put MLB on notice. He made his first All-Star team and won his first Silver Slugger award.
Never a power hitter, Gwynn knew how to get on base and was one of the first players to utilize video to study his own hitting tendencies and that of opposing pitchers and used that to his advantage.
Looking at his career, he never had a full season where he didn’t bat over .300. He was the model of consistency and that’s why the National League Batting crown is named after the eight-time batting champ.
From 1984-1997 it was pretty much Gwynn and then everybody else when it came to diligence, technical hitting prowess and patience at the plate.
Baseball is a sport where many don’t have success, and especially for the length of time that Gwynn did. His baseball career was long and glorious, but his life was cvut short. Gwynn passed away at the age of 54 after battling cancer for years.
During his career he made 15 All-Star teams, and at one point he made 11 consecutive.
He finished his illustrious Hall of Fame career with an impressive .338 batting average, 3,141 hits, 135 home runs and 1,138 RBIs. The stats say it all.
Point blank and period “Mr. Padre” was a “Pros Pro” and a “Professional Hitter.”
On this day (May 29th) in 1990 Rickey Henderson stole the 893rd base of his career breaking Ty Cobb’s American League record.
The Stolen Base King would go onto eventually obliterate Lou Brock’s MLB record of 938 and finishing his illustrious career with 1406 swipes.
Henderson set the single-season and career records for stolen bases over his 25-year Hall of Fame career and he did it with an unrivaled flair and effectiveness that made him one of the iconic superstars of the game.
“Yes I’m a hot dog. Yes I’m a showman. But remember this is baseball. This is entertainment. I’m an entertainer. Baseball was made to be fun.”
The greatest leadoff hitter the game has ever known was born on Christmas Day in 1958, in Chicago, Illinois.
He was selected by the Oakland As in the 1976 MLB Draft.
The dynamic leadoff hitter set a record with 130 stolen bases in the 1982 season, one of 12 times he led the league, and he was named American League MVP in 1990.
Henderson retired as baseball’s all-time leader in steals, runs, and walks. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Henderson known for his speed and quickness developed that chasing chickens on his grandmothers farm in Pine Bluff, Arkansas at a young age.
His family moved to Oakland CA, where the future baseball great began spending his days at renowned Bushrod Park, proving his athletic capabilities across an array of sports.
With his great speed, Henderson became an All-American running back at Oakland Technical High School. He also excelled in baseball, producing a .716 batting average as a junior.
Henderson was selected by the hometown Oakland A’s in the fourth round of the 1976 amateur baseball draft, but he also received dozens of college football scholarship offers.
After deferring the decision-making to his mom, who worried her son was too small for football, he signed with A’s and made an immediate impact in the minor leagues.
Halfway through the 1979 season he received his call-up to the club’s outfield. He batted .274 with 33 stolen bases over the remainder of the 1979 campaign with Oakland, and by the following season it was clear he was a special player.
He stole 100 bases to set a new American League record, and by using an exaggerated crouch in the batter’s box, he compiled 117 walks for an outstanding .420 on-base percentage.
He also used his speed to run down every ball in his vicinity in left field, earning a Gold Glove Award for his defense in 1981.
In 1982, Henderson blew past Hall of Famer Lou Brock’s big league record of 118 stolen bases in a season, en route to an seemingly untouchable mark of 130. Although he was earning a reputation for showmanship,
Henderson was also a smart player who recognized the need for greater efficiency in his overall game. The following year he added another 108 thefts while slicing his caught-stealing total by more than one-half.
Traded to the New York Yankees after the 1984 season, Henderson dazzled the Big Apple fans in 1985 by batting .314 with 24 home runs, 80 stolen bases and an incredible 146 runs scored.
He was limited to just 95 games by a hamstring injury in 1987, and as such had his streak of seven consecutive stolen-base crowns snapped.
But he did return to set a team record with 93 steals in 1988.
Following a lackluster first half of the 1989 season, Henderson was reignited by a trade that returned him to Oakland, where he helped bring the A’s to the World Series, which they won in a four-game sweep over the San Francisco Giants.
The following season Henderson earned AL MVP honors, again helping bring the A’s to the World Series.
On May 1, 1991 Henderson achieved the inevitable when he surpassed Brock’s all-time record with career stolen base No. 939. True to form, at the end of a speech to commemorate the moment, he announced,
“Today I am the greatest!”
Henderson went on to play for the Blue Jays, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox and Padres for a second time.
Unsigned by the start of 2003 season, he kept playing at any level he could and joined the Newark Bears of the Independent Atlantic League, before finishing the season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He finished his career as baseball’s all-time leader in stolen bases (1,406), runs scored (2,295), and walks (2,190) and was the 25th player to reach 3,000 hits.
In his post-baseball playing career, Henderson still stayed linked to the game by joining the Mets organization as a special instructor in 2006 and became the team’s first base coach in 2007.
In 2009, Henderson was elected to Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He was named on 95 percent of the ballots, on of the highest percentages of all-time.
In recent years, the baseball great served as a roving instructor in the A’s organization, imparting his hitting and baserunning advice to minor league players.