Phils Say Au Revoir to History With Expos

This is the last in a series of six monthly columns remembering memorable Phillies games on their milestone dates. This column spotlights notable Phillies games against the Montreal Expos as they prepare to move to a new life in Washington, DC.

Although the Montreal Expos have been around for only 35 years, the Phillies played many memorable games against their neighbors to the north. Most of those games, though, took place before 1991, when both teams were in their heydays.

The first memory is a seemingly improbable one. On April 17, 1969, on only their ninth official day of existence in Major League Baseball, Montreal's Bill Stoneman tossed a 7-0 no-hitter against the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium. It would be the first of two no-no's for Stoneman.

On October 1, 1970, the Phils defeated the Expos 2-1 in 10 innings, marking the last game ever played at Connie Mack Stadium. Just over six months later, on April 10, 1971, those same two teams hooked up at new Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, with the Phils pulling out a 4-1 win behind future Hall-of-Famer (and U.S. Senator) Jim Bunning. In reciprocal fashion, on September 26, 1976, the Phillies defeated the Expos 2-1 in 7 innings, marking the final game at the Expos' bandbox stadium, Jarry Park. Earlier that day, the Phillies clinched their first-ever National League East crown by defeating Montreal in the first game of a Sunday double-header. And just like six years earlier, the Phillies and Expos hooked up to open another new stadium, this time Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The Phillies won 7-2, but new Expos second baseman Dave Cash (late of the Phillies) went 2 for 4 in his Montreal debut.

A low point in Phillies history happened on May 19, 1979 (the fifth anniversary of the Flyers winning their first Stanley Cup); the Phils unveiled all-burgundy uniforms on Photo Night at the Vet. The uniforms were to be their "Saturday Night Specials', but after a 10-5 loss to the Expos on a rainy night, the threads were mercifully retired. Larry Christenson, that night's starter for the Phillies, marked the closing of Veterans Stadium in 2003 by putting on those awful duds one more time.

On October 4, 1980, Mike Schmidt smacked his team record 48th homerun of the season to put the Phils on top of Montreal 6-4, and the Phillies won the game 6-5 to clinch the NL East title for the fourth time in five years. That was the first of three celebrations that October, culminating in the World Series title 17 days later.

The 1981 season was notable for being strike-shortened, leading to a playoff between the Phillies - who won the "first half" - and the "second half" winning Expos. George Vukovich's 10th inning homerun on October 10th tied the series at two games apiece, but Montreal's Steve Rogers pitched a six-inning shutout the next day to move the Expos into the NLCS against Los Angeles.

After the World Series loss to Baltimore in 1983, the Phillies released Pete Rose, who at the time had 3,990 career base hits. On April 13, 1984, at Olympic Stadium, Rose doubled in the fourth inning off the Phils' Jerry Koosman for his 4,000th career hit, joining only Ty Cobb in that elite company.

Pascual Perez was a flaky pitcher who was notable for missing a start when he played for the Braves because he couldn't find the exit to the stadium on the interstate that circled the city of Atlanta, and subsequently missed a start. On September 24, 1988, he didn't miss a thing at Veterans Stadium, throwing a rain-shortened six-inning no-hitter against the Phillies.

In 1991, Phillies right-hander Tommy Greene had two of the best back-to-back games by a pitcher in team history. On May 23rd, he threw a 2-0 no hitter at Olympic Stadium, making the final out by himself. Five days later, at Veterans Stadium, Delino DeShields led off for the Expos against Greene with a single, but Greene allowed only two more hits the rest of the way, in a 12-0 win over Montreal. In those 2 games, Greene pitched 18 innings and allowed only three hits.

And on September 26, 2004, the Phillies defeated the Expos 2-1 at Olympic Stadium behind Cory Lidle, in what will turn out to be the final meeting ever between these old rivals. The next time these two franchises see each other, it will be on April 4, 2005, at Citizens Bank Park. The name on the front of the visiting team's jerseys will read "Washington", but the memories of classic Phillies-Expos matchups will remain etched in the minds of fans of both teams.

As an aside, being a resident of the Washington, DC, suburbs, I am ecstatic that the Expos are moving here, but feel bad for the Expos fans in Montreal, as few as there were. But now I'll get to see the Phillies up to nine times a year at RFK Stadium, and another three more at Camden Yards, just up the road. Montreal's loss is Washington's gain, and a personal gain for this transplanted Phillies fan.

Author's note: Thanks to retrosheet.org for providing historical box scores for this series of columns I was able to write this season. Also thanks to my editor, Chuck Hixson, for allowing me to try this endeavor. I hope to continue this next season; I hope you all enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Please direct any comments to dnemetz@att.net.

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