Expos fans celebrated when Gary “The Kid” Carter entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003. They rejoiced when Andre “The Hawk” Dawson joined Carter in 2010. But, on July 30, when Tim “Rock” Raines finally makes it to Cooperstown, Expos fans will go ballistic. Simply put, Rock’s induction is bigger than the Kid’s or Hawk’s.
Bear with me.
Don’t get me wrong. Carter and Dawson both had an enduring impact on the Expos franchise and fanbase. They were tremendous players.
However, Tim Raines’ induction will be more meaningful to fans of the defunct Nos Amours for a number of reasons.
Rock Wanted To Go in as an Expo and He’ll Be the First Undisputed Expo in the Hall of Fame
Let me explain this one.
Both Gary Carter and Andre Dawson wanted to have a different cap on their Hall of Fame plaque than the Expos’. Most die-hard Expos fans know this.
Carter preferred to go in as a Met or at the very least with a split cap. He had won a World Series in 1986 with the Mets and became a huge star while he was in New York.
From a marketing standpoint, it also made more sense for him to go into memorabilia events as a New York Met Hall of Famer than as an Expo. Carter could make more money in the New York market than in a Montreal market that no longer had a team.
Dawson expressed his desire to go in as a Chicago Cub. The Hawk left the Expos on bitter terms with the club’s management in 1986. At the time, many Major League clubs colluded to prevent players from hitting the free agent market. Dawson had received a low-ball offer from the Expos following the 1986 season. He also wanted to get away from playing on the Olympic Stadium’s artificial turf, which damaged his knees.
The Hawk went on to win the National League Most Valuable Player award the following season as a Cub. He was a five-time All-Star in Chicago. He made three All-Star Games as an Expo.
Both Carter and Dawson made legitimate cases to enter the Hall of Fame as representatives of other franchises. Ultimately, they settled on going into Cooperstown as Expos.
With Raines, there was never any doubt on his part or anybody else’s that he would enter the Hall of Fame as a Montreal Expo.
Raines played 13 of his 23 seasons in Montreal, which included the prime of his career. While he did win the World Series with the New York Yankees in 1996 and 1998, he was but a part-time role player at that point.
That’s why Rock will be the first undisputed Expo to enter Cooperstown.
The Renewed Enthusiasm for the Expos Will Make This a Real Celebration
Timing is everything.
When Gary Carter became a Hall of Famer in 2003, the Expos were dying.
They were owned by Major League Baseball at the time, and it was obvious that they would soon be relocating.
The team was splitting its home games between Montreal and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Despite that obstacle, the players found a way to remain close in the National League Wild Card race.
However, Bud Selig and the MLB owners sent a strong message to the Expos players about their chances in September. While the rest of the teams got help from call-ups for the stretch run, the Expos players received no such reinforcements. Demoralized, the team quickly fell out of contention.
The following season would be the Expos’ last in Montreal before relocating to Washington in 2005.
When Andre Dawson entered Cooperstown in 2010, the Expos had been extinct for six years.
Denis Coderre wasn’t the mayor of Montreal. Therefore, he had not started his mission to bring baseball back to Montreal. Expos Nation didn’t exist yet. Nobody believed in an eventual return of the Expos.
Bud Selig was still the commissioner of baseball. Thus, any talk of an MLB return to Montreal could only be qualified as far-fetched.
Things are different in 2017.
There’s a renewed enthusiasm for the game in Montreal due to the recent success of the Blue Jays and their exhibition game series in this city over the last three years.
Montreal fans partied in Cooperstown when Pedro Martinez went into the Hall of Fame as a Red Sox.
It was a Red Sox party for Pedro Martinez and @ExposNation crashed. Mayor @DenisCoderre included. pic.twitter.com/u3SazoLPaR
— Annakin Slayd (@AnnakinSlayd) July 26, 2015
The new commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred, has mentioned Montreal as a possible expansion site.
When Rock makes his way to Cooperstown, the vibe surrounding his induction will be completely different than what Carter and Dawson experienced.
Tenth Time’s the Charm
This one is pretty simple.
This was Rock’s last chance at getting into Cooperstown by way of the baseball writers’ ballots.
The sense of urgency around Raines’ situation spurred several crusaders into action. Montreal Expos fans took to Twitter to campaign on his behalf.
Jonah Keri led the charge.
Oh and also: Today is Day 1 of Tim Raines HoF campaign. It's his last time on the ballot, and I'm going to do everything I can to get him in
— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) November 3, 2016
It’s a crime that Tim Raines, the second-best leadoff hitter in history, waited ten years to become a Hall of Famer.
However, due to the efforts of Expos fans and stat junkies across the internet, Raines is finally getting the credit he deserves.
Expos fans played a greater role in Rock’s induction than the Kid’s or the Hawk’s. Social media campaigning made that possible.
That will only make the party on July 30 even sweeter.
These are all reasons why Rock’s induction is bigger than the others.
2003 felt like the final chapter of a dying franchise. 2010 was a nostalgic epilogue. 2017 feels like the beginning of a brand new story.
It just feels right.