Did you even remember that Pete Rose was on the Montreal Expos?
Everyone remembers his long stint with the Big Red Machine in the 1960’s and 70’s. And who could forget Pete Rose leading the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series in 1980 and 1983 with his signature move at first base of throwing the baseball as hard as he could on the ground of Veteran Park’s astroturf? Rose’s second stint with the Reds included a stint as Player-Manager and his notorious betting scandel. But in 1984, Rose was granted an unconditional release and became a free agent after the Phillies deemed that Rose was getting too old for the team and wanted him to take a more limited role with the team. The Phillies at the time were high on Len Matusek and wanted him to receive more playing time at Rose’s expense. Of all teams, the Expos were the ones who came knocking with the most money and promise of playing time. North of the Border he went as he signed as a Free Agent on January 20, 1984.
The team looked strong, led by future hall of famers, Gary Carter and Andre Dawson, as well as up and comer Tim Raines. Rose was signed to play left field, since First Base was already occupied by standout (and current Boston Red Sox Manager) Terry Francona. The Expos were poised to get into the playoffs again after near misses in 1980 and 1981.
Things didn’t turn out that way, however. Despite stellar seasons from Carter and pitcher Charlie Lea, the Expos could never get more than a few games all season and ended up 78-83, Fifth in the National League East. Big seasons were counted on by Starting Pitcher Steve Rogers and Rightfielder Andre Dawson. Neither of hose occurred adn in fact Rogers struggled to a 6-15 season. You know things are bad when the manager is fired mid season (Bill Virdon was fired after leading the team to 64-67 record) and the team does not have to finish the full 162 season (only playing 161 games). Rose struggled as well, compiling a .629 OPS in 94 games.
A highlight for the team occurred early on in the season however, when Rose got his 4000th hit on April 13, 1984 with a double of Jerry Koosman in the 4th inning in Montreal in a 5-1 victory over Rose’s old team the Philadephia Phillies. Interestingly, the hit came on the 21st anniversary of his FIRST hit with the Reds in 1963.
Rose’s tenure with the Expos was brief as he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds on August 19, 1984 to become the first Player Manager in the major leagues in more than three decades.