On Saturday, the Washington Nationals wore the powder blue away jerseys and pants that the Montreal Expos wore during their inaugural season 50 years ago, which was either a celebration of the team’s Canadian heritage or a move that really bummed out Montreal sports fans. Maybe both. Either way, it was the first time the Nationals — who on Saturday beat the Kansas City Royals, 6-0 — have worn Expos throwback unis.
You can read more about the Canadian scene at Nationals Park here.
Nationals Manager Dave Martinez played 431 games for the Expos from partway into the 1988 season through 1991. He wore No. 1 (as opposed to the No. 4 he wears with the Nats) but it wasn’t quite the same size.
“My son had my jersey on this morning, my original one,” Martinez said. “I said I wish I was that size. He’s in Florida.
“He had the white with the red. It was just like this one but white. I wasn’t there when they broke out the pinstripes; they came out later.”
Martinez enjoyed the city of Montreal once he arrived there, and recognizes the importance of the team’s roots.
“When I first got traded there, because I was young, it was kind of a culture shock. It really was,” he said. “Going to a different country, you go to the grocery store and people spoke French, and so it was a learning process. So I enjoyed the city very much. … I had a great time there. I always say, hopefully they bring a team back there.
“I think it’s definitely important, especially if you look across the board of how many good players that played in Montreal that came out of the Montreal organization, it’s pretty cool to recognize, even now, every time I look up I see Expos hats still. I remember going to Toronto, and we played in Toronto, there was a huge following when I went there, of Toronto fans that would show up and had hats on and big signs, ‘We miss you, Montreal’ and stuff like that. So it’s pretty cool.”
Former Expos star Vladimir Guerrero made a stop in the Nationals’ clubhouse before Saturday’s game. He had some very fond memories of his time in Montreal, where he began his Hall of Fame career.
“I feel very, very happy to see someone wearing it,” Guerrero said of the throwbacks. “This is the first team which gave me the opportunity to play professional baseball.”
Guerrero was very fond of his first major league city too, waxing nostalgic about living in Montreal.
“I enjoyed the time when I’d ride the train to the ballpark from my apartment and a lot of the fans would recognize me. No issues, they were all friendly, and they made me feel important. Those were some of the best memories I had.”
Nats broadcaster F.P. Santangelo also played for the Expos during his career and was in the spirit of things up in the booth.
This post has been updated.
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