There is a chance that the nostalgia evident in Cooperstown could be converted into a future for big league baseball in Montreal. The Canadian Press reported in March that two potential investors, Stephen Bronfman and Mitch Garber, had met with M.L.B. officials this year to propose possible sites for a new ballpark. However, Garber said the report was overstated.
Any such quest is likely to be complicated by the lackluster history of the Expos. The team routinely drew small crowds and, over its last seven seasons, averaged fewer than a million fans at Olympic Stadium, which was ill suited to baseball.
The Expos made the playoffs just once in their 36 seasons, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1981 National League Championship Series. In 1994, before the strike ruined a potential championship season, the team’s home attendance was only 70 percent of the National League average.
“I tried everything for them,” Bud Selig, the former commissioner who was part of Raines’s induction class, said here on Saturday. “I kept them there a couple of extra years. I talked to a lot of people about buying the team. It’s a complicated relationship. They need a stadium; they need owners. If you could put a team there now, you’d make me very happy.”
That is a matter for the 10th commissioner, Rob Manfred. But many Montreal fans in Cooperstown, resentful of Selig’s part in their team’s exit, booed him during the ceremony.
“He played a role in their demise,” said Dave Kaufman, a radio host in Montreal and a member of Expos Nation, the group that is trying to bring a team back to the city. “He’s not the only one, but he’s one.”
Kaufman added: “There was a lot of discussion among the groups from Montreal coming here about how Selig would be greeted here. It’s the Hall of Fame induction, and we want to be respectful. But it just sounds like they’re trying to soften us all up by telling everyone it’s his 83rd birthday. Next, they’ll be saying he saved a bunch of puppies.”
Raines is likely to be the penultimate player to enter the Hall as an Expo. There is a very good chance that the next vote will send Vladimir Guerrero to Cooperstown and that, despite his time with other teams, he will be inducted as an Expo.
At one time or another, Gary Carter and Andre Dawson, who are also enshrined as Expos, have expressed a desire to have the cap of another club on their plaques — the Mets for Carter, the Cubs for Dawson.
That was not the case with Raines, who has been lobbying for Montreal to get a new team.
“We don’t have one yet,” he said, “but here’s hoping.”
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