CBC Digital Archives

1969: Montreal Expos play first home game

Play ball! From the impromptu games of "town ball" in the 1800s, through Jackie Robinson's Montreal Royals to the Expos and Blue Jays, Canadians have always been infatuated with baseball. But getting big league teams to come to Canada proved harder than hitting a grand slam. It took decades of persuading, promoting, wheeling and dealing, but eventually America's favourite pastime found a home in the great white north.

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The first game by a Canadian major league team takes place in New York on April 8, 1969 when the Montreal Expos visit Shea Stadium to take on the New York Mets. Then, on Monday, April 14, 1969 at 1:35 p.m., the first Major League Baseball game in Canada begins as the Expos host the St. Louis Cardinals. Surprisingly, the Expos win both games. CBC Television's 1969 Sports Year in Review looks at the team's debut.
• The Expos had a tough first game. The opposing pitcher was the Mets' Tom Seaver, who became 1969's Sportsman of the Year. The Mets won the World Series later that year.
• The first Expos game was a wild one, marked by bad pitching and a lot of errors. Relief pitcher Dan McGinn hit the first Expos home run during the third inning, and the Expos held on to beat the Mets 11-10.

• The Expos home opener on April 14 was no less wild. Stadium workers were still bolting in seats and shoveling snow as the first fans arrived. The Expos faced the previous year's National League champions, the St. Louis Cardinals. In front of 29,184 fans, the Cardinals' Dal Maxvill hit a grand slam, but the Expos' Mack Jones hit a three-run homer, and the Expos won 8-7.

• Two weeks into the season, on April 17, Expos pitcher Bill Stoneman threw the team's first no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies for a 7-0 win.
• The San Diego Padres were also added to the National League in 1969.
• The Expos and Padres finished their first seasons with identical records: 52 wins and 110 losses, tying for last place in the National League.

Also on April 14:
1975: Ontario Court of Appeal rules that divorced women can sue their former husbands for damages.
1992: The Supreme Court, citing new evidence, rules unanimously that David Milgaard's 1970 murder conviction in the death of Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller should be quashed and recommends a new trial.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News Special
Broadcast Date: Jan. 2, 1970
Host: Don Chevrier, Bob Moir
Duration: 2:03

Last updated: March 7, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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