Fed City Flashback: 2002 – MLB Takes Ownership Of Expos

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In today’s Fed City Flashback, we take you back 13 years ago to 2002. It is the offseason after the 2001 Montreal Expos went 68-94, finishing in last place in the NL East. Montreal’s attendance at their home stadium, Olympic Stadium, drew an average of 7,935 fans per game that year. In addition, the team had two managers that season as they replaced Felipe Alou with Jeff Torborg mid-season.

On this date in 2002, then Expos’ owner, Jeffrey Loria officially bought the Florida Marlins for $158 million. Loria had run the Expos since 1999, when he bought a minority stake in the team worth $18 million, but he would later go on to own the majority of the team.

With Loria no longer in charge , Major League Baseball took ownership of the team. Under MLB’s ownership, Frank Robinson became the new manager of the team. Robinson would manage the Expos and the Washington Nationals from 2002-2006. Under Robinson’s tenure, the team did finish with a record of .500 or above three times, but failed to make the playoffs. He was recently named American League President when Rob Manfred took over as Commissioner.

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The other front office changes were that Tony Tavares became the club’s new president and Omar Minaya became the general manager. Tavares was the president of the NHL’s Anaheim Mighty Ducks since 1993.

As far as the front office went, Omar Minaya became the first Hispanic general manager in baseball history after working as an assistant general manager to Steve Phillips and the New York Mets since 1997.

One of the more famous trades Minaya made as GM was obtaining Bartolo Colon from the Cleveland Indians,, giving away Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Lee Stevens during the ’02 season. Minaya is now the senior advisior to the head of the MLB Players’ Union, Tony Clark.

The Expos would end up staying in Canada for two more seasons until Commissioner Bud Selig moved the team to Washington D.C. after the 2004 season. Minaya would go back to the Mets and become the general manager while Taveras would stay with the Nationals until 2006.

It is interesting to see how baseball in Montreal got its end while guys like Jeff Torborg went on to be Loria’s manager in Florida. While it is a different name and location, the Expos’ franchise still carries on in Washington D.C as the team was able to avoid contraction in 2002 from Selig along with the Minnesota Twins in the American League.

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