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Baseball: fans delay expos home finale

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posted on Sep, 29 2004 @ 08:08 PM
Players pulled off field during Expos' last home game

September 29, 2004

MONTREAL (AP) -- The Expos and Marlins were pulled off the field during Montreal's final home game Wednesday night after a fan threw a golf ball that landed near second base, delaying the game for 10 minutes.

With Florida's Jeff Conine at the plate in the third inning, Expos manager Frank Robinson came out of the dugout, summoned plate umpire Rick Reed and pointed out the golf ball.

Reed, the crew chief, waved all the players into the dugout as the crowd cheered. Security guards lined up along each baseline at Olympic Stadium. Before play resumed, fans were warned that the game would be forfeited if any more objects were thrown onto the field.

Hours earlier, baseball announced that the 36-year-old franchise will be moved next season to Washington, D.C. Baseball had been looking to relocate the team for years because of dwindling attendance.

More than 30,000 Expos fans showed up for their final chance to say farewell -- the largest crowd of the year and about four times the season average in Montreal.

The last major league team to move was the Washington Senators, who became the Texas Rangers for the 1972 season.

The Senators' final home game was forfeited on Sept. 30, 1971. Fans rushed onto the field with two outs in the ninth inning, upset over owner Bob Short's decision to move the team to Texas.

The Senators were leading the New York Yankees 7-5 when the game was declared a forfeit.

Fans were still streaming into Olympic Stadium during the second inning Wednesday night. The seldom-used upper deck was already filling with spectators as Sun-woo Kim threw the first pitch to Juan Pierre.

Wednesday night's game was the 2,786th for the Expos in Montreal, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That includes 641 at Jarry Park, where the team started play in 1969, and 2,145 at Olympic Stadium, where the Expos moved in 1977.

The 1994 Expos were honored in a pregame ceremony. That team was 74-40, the best record in baseball, and six games up in the NL East when major league players went on strike, a work stoppage that ultimately resulted in the cancellation of the playoffs and World Series.

Several members of the 1994 team -- including current Montreal left-hander Joey Eischen, Florida's Wil Cordero, pitchers Ken Hill, Gil Heredia and Tim Scott -- were on hand to sign autographs as fans were allowed to mill about the outfield before the game.

Usherettes Marie-Claude Girard and Dominique Duquette were red-eyed from crying unabashedly as fans filed past them on and off the field.

Many fans brought gloves and played catch on the field, others sat or sprawled on the field's artificial turf. Security was increased, but the crowd cleared the field without any problems when the autograph session ended.

Recorded messages from former Expos Felipe Alou, who managed the team from 1992-01, Cubs slugger Moises Alou and San Francisco's Kirk Rueter and Marquis Grissom, were played on the video scoreboard.

The small group of players were introduced to the crowd before they walked to the outfield wall in left-center field, where they unveiled a banner with the Expos' logo reading, ``1994 Meilleure Equipe du Baseball -- Best Team in Baseball.''

Kim Richardson's rendition of ``The Star-Spangled Banner'' was initially greeted with boos. Applause soon drowned out the jeers.

posted on Sep, 30 2004 @ 01:52 AM
Big crowd, too bad they didn't show up more often. That strike was probably what killed the Expos. They had a helluva team, was shipped off afterwards. If they had won that World Series I'm betting that the team would still be there next year.


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